|3 Months Ended|
Mar. 31, 2015
|Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]|
The Company is from time to time engaged in routine litigation. The Company regularly reviews all pending litigation matters in which it is involved and establishes reserves deemed appropriate by management for these litigation matters when a probable loss estimate can be made.
As a marketer of foods, dietary and nutritional supplements, and other products that are ingested by consumers or applied to their bodies, the Company has been and is currently subjected to various product liability claims. The effects of these claims to date have not been material to the Company, and the reasonably possible range of exposure on currently existing claims is not material to the Company. The Company believes that it has meritorious defenses to the allegations contained in the lawsuits. The Company currently maintains product liability insurance with an annual deductible of $15 million.
Certain of the Company’s subsidiaries have been subject to tax audits by governmental authorities in their respective countries. In certain of these tax audits, governmental authorities are proposing that significant amounts of additional taxes and related interest and penalties are due. The Company and its tax advisors believe that there are substantial defenses to governmental allegations that significant additional taxes are owed, and the Company is vigorously contesting the additional proposed taxes and related charges. On May 7, 2010, the Company received an assessment from the Mexican Tax Administration Service in an amount equivalent to approximately $75 million, translated at the March 31, 2015 spot rate, for various items, the majority of which was Value Added Tax, or VAT, allegedly owed on certain of the Company’s products imported into Mexico during the years 2005 and 2006. This assessment is subject to interest and inflationary adjustments. On July 8, 2010, the Company initiated a formal administrative appeal process. On May 13, 2011, the Mexican Tax Administration Service issued a resolution on the Company’s administrative appeal. The resolution nullified the assessment. Since the Mexican Tax Administration Service can further review the tax audit findings and re-issue some or all of the original assessment, the Company commenced litigation in the Tax Court of Mexico in August 2011 to dispute the assertions made by the Mexican Tax Administration Service in the case. The Company received notification on February 6, 2015 that the Tax Court of Mexico nullified substantially all of the assessment. On March 18, 2015, the Mexican Tax Administration Service filed an appeal against the verdict with the Circuit Court. The Company is currently preparing its response to that appeal.
The Mexican Tax Administration Service commenced audits of the Company’s Mexican subsidiaries for the period from January to September 2007 and on May 10, 2013, the Company received an assessment of approximately $19 million, translated at the March 31, 2015 spot rate, related to that period. On July 11, 2013, the Company filed an administrative appeal disputing the assessment. In addition, the Mexican Tax Administration Service has requested additional information in response to Company filings for VAT refunds. On September 22, 2014, the Mexican Tax Administration Service denied the Company’s administrative appeal. The Company commenced litigation in the Tax Court of Mexico in November 2014 to dispute the assertions made by the Mexican Tax Administration Service in the case. The Company issued a surety bond in the amount of $20.9 million, translated at the March 31, 2015 spot rate, through an insurance company to guarantee payment of the tax assessment as required while the Company pursues an appeal of the assessment. Litigation in this case is currently ongoing. The Company has not recognized a loss as the Company does not believe a loss is probable.
The Mexican Tax Administration Service audited the Company’s Mexican subsidiaries for the 2011 year. The audit focused on importation and VAT issues. On June 25, 2013, the Mexican Tax Administration Service closed the audit of the 2011 year without any assessment.
The Company has not recognized a loss with respect to any of these Mexican matters as the Company, based on its analysis and guidance from its advisors, does not believe a loss is probable. Further, the Company is currently unable to reasonably estimate a possible loss or range of loss that could result from an unfavorable outcome if an assessment was re-issued or any additional assessments were to be issued for these or other periods. The Company believes that it has meritorious defenses if the assessment is re-issued or would have meritorious defenses if any additional assessment is issued.
The Mexican Tax Administration Service has requested information related to the Company’s 2010 year. This information has been provided. In addition, the Mexican Tax Administration Service requested information related to the Company’s 2012 year. This information has been provided. The Mexican Tax Administration Service may request additional information or audit additional periods.
The Mexican Tax Administration Service has delayed processing VAT refunds for companies operating in Mexico and the Company believes that the process for its Mexico subsidiary to receive VAT refunds may be delayed. In March 2015, the Company commenced litigation in the Tax Court of Mexico to reclaim the VAT refund pertaining specifically to the July 2013 period. As of March 31, 2015, the Company had $54.1 million of Mexico VAT related assets within other assets on its consolidated balance sheet. This amount relates to VAT payments made over various periods. The Company has not recognized any losses related to these VAT related assets as the Company does not believe a loss is probable.
On March 26, 2015, the Office of the President of Mexico issued a decree relating to the application of VAT to Nutritional Supplements. The Company continues to believe its application of the VAT law in Mexico is correct. At March 31, 2015, the Company has not recognized any losses as the Company, based on its current analysis and guidance from its advisors, does not believe a loss is probable. The Company continues to evaluate and monitor its situation as it develops, including whether it will make any changes to its operations in Mexico.
The Company received a tax assessment in September 2009 from the Federal Revenue Office of Brazil in an amount equivalent to approximately $2.6 million, translated at the March 31, 2015 spot rate, related to withholding/contributions based on payments to the Company’s Members during 2004. On December 28, 2010, the Company appealed this tax assessment to the Administrative Council of Tax Appeals (2nd level administrative appeal). The Company believes it has meritorious defenses and it has not recognized a loss as the Company does not believe a loss is probable. On March 6, 2014, the Company was notified of a similar audit of the 2011 year. This audit is ongoing. The Company is currently unable to reasonably estimate the amount of the loss that may result from an unfavorable outcome if additional assessments for other periods were to be issued.
The Company’s Brazilian subsidiary pays ICMS-ST taxes on its product purchases, similar to VAT. The Company believes it will be able to utilize or recover these ICMS-ST credits in the future. As of March 31, 2015, the Company had $14.1 million of Brazil ICMS-ST related assets within other assets on its consolidated balance sheet. At March 31, 2015, the Company has not recognized any losses related to these ICMS-ST related assets as the Company does not believe a loss is probable.
The Korea Customs Service is currently auditing the importation activities of Herbalife Korea for the periods 2010 and later. If an assessment is issued, the Company would likely be required to pay the amount requested in order to appeal the assessment. Based on the Company’s analysis and guidance from its advisors, the Company does not believe a loss is probable. Further, the Company is currently unable to reasonably estimate a possible loss or range of loss.
Bostick, et al., v. Herbalife Int’l of Am., Inc., et al. On April 8, 2013, Herbalife Ltd. and certain of its subsidiaries were named as defendants in a suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, challenging Herbalife’s marketing practices and business structure under California laws prohibiting “endless chain schemes,” unfair and deceptive business practices, and false advertising, as well as federal RICO statutes. On July 7, 2014, the complaint was amended to add additional plaintiffs. The plaintiffs seek damages in an unspecified amount. The federal RICO claim was dismissed. While the Company continues to believe the suit is without merit, and without in any way admitting liability or wrongdoing, the Company and the plaintiffs reached a settlement. Under the terms of the settlement, the Company would (i) pay $15 million into a fund to be distributed to qualified claimants and (ii) accept up to a maximum amount of $2.5 million in product returns from qualified claimants. The court granted preliminary approval of the settlement on December 2, 2014 and conditionally certified a class. The final approval hearing is set for May 11, 2015. As of March 31, 2015, these amounts were adequately reserved for in the Company’s financial statements. The Company has transferred $15 million to an escrow account which was included in prepaid expenses and other current assets within its consolidated balance sheet as of March 31, 2015.
In re Herbalife, Ltd. Securities Litigation (formerly captioned Awad v. Herbalife Ltd., et al.). On April 14, 2014, Herbalife Ltd. and certain of its officers were named as defendants in a purported stockholder class action, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The complaint alleged that the Company and certain officers made material misstatements concerning the Company’s finances and business practices, and contended that the Company is operating a pyramid scheme. The initial complaint sought to represent a class of investors that had purchased shares of the Company’s common stock between May 4, 2010 and April 11, 2014. On July 30, 2014, the Court approved the appointment of different shareholders as lead plaintiffs and approved their selection of counsel. On September 18, 2014, these lead plaintiffs filed an Amended Class Action Complaint for Violation of the Federal Securities Laws against the Company, and certain of its officers. The Amended Complaint brings claims for unspecified damages under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, alleges that the defendants made material misstatements that “fundamentally misrepresented the nature, scope and legality of the Company’s business and operations to consumers and investors alike,” and further alleges that the Company is one of “the most sophisticated pyramid schemes in history.” The lead plaintiffs seek to represent a class of all persons or entities that purchased shares of the Company’s common stock between February 23, 2011 and July 29, 2014. On March 16, 2015, the Court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss all claims in the Amended Complaint with leave to file an amended complaint and dismissed one of the shareholders as lead plaintiff. If a plaintiff elects to file an amended complaint again, it must do so by May 8, 2015. The Company intends to vigorously defend this purported class action suit. The Company has not recognized a loss as it does not believe a loss is probable. Further, the Company is currently unable to reasonably estimate a possible loss or range of loss.
U.S. Federal Trade Commission Civil Investigative Demand. As previously disclosed, the Company received from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, or the FTC, a Civil Investigative Demand, or a CID, relating to the FTC’s confidential investigation of whether the Company has complied with federal law in the advertising, marketing, or sale of business opportunities. Pursuant to the CID, as supplemented, the FTC has requested from the Company documents and other information for the time period commencing January 1, 2009 to the present. The Company is cooperating with the investigation and cannot predict the eventual scope, duration or outcome of the investigation at this time.
Since late 2012, a short seller has made and continues to make allegations regarding the Company and its network marketing program. The Company believes these allegations are without merit and is vigorously defending itself against such claims, including proactively reaching out to governmental authorities about what the Company believes is manipulative activity with respect to its securities. Because of these allegations, the Company and others have received and may receive additional regulatory and governmental inquiries. For example, the Company has previously disclosed inquiries from the Federal Trade Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission and other governmental authorities. The Department of Justice recently sought information from the Company, certain of its Members and others regarding allegations being made about the business practices of the Company and its Members. In the future, these and other governmental authorities may determine to seek information from the Company and other persons relating to these same or other allegations. If the Company believes any governmental or regulatory inquiry or investigation is or becomes material it will be disclosed individually. Consistent with its policies, the Company has cooperated and will continue to fully cooperate with any governmental or regulatory inquiries or investigations.
These matters may take several years to resolve. While the Company believes it has meritorious defenses, it cannot be sure of their ultimate resolution. Although the Company may reserve amounts for certain matters that the Company believes represent the most likely outcome of the resolution of these related disputes, if the Company is incorrect in its assessment, the Company may have to record additional expenses, when it becomes probable that an increased potential liability is warranted.
The entire disclosure for commitments and contingencies.
Reference 1: http://www.xbrl.org/2003/role/presentationRef