|9 Months Ended
Sep. 30, 2023
|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.
The matters described in this Note 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 Mexican Tax Administration Service has delayed processing value-added tax, or 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. As of September 30, 2023, the Company had $16.3 million of Mexico VAT-related assets, of which $7.7 million was recognized in prepaid expenses and other current assets and $8.6 million was recognized in other assets within its condensed consolidated balance sheet. This amount relates to VAT payments made over various periods and the Company believes these amounts are recoverable by refund or they may be applied against certain future tax liabilities. Effective January 1, 2019, a tax reform law changed the rules concerning possible use of VAT assets, specifically providing that, for VAT balances generated after December 31, 2018, those balances could not be offset against taxes other than VAT obligations currently due. The Company has not recognized any losses related to these VAT-related assets as the Company does not believe a loss is probable.
In addition, the Mexican Tax Administration Service is auditing the Company’s various tax filings for the 2019 year and after completing its initial examination, the Tax Administration Service is now discussing its preliminary findings with the Company. Those findings primarily concern which VAT rate is applicable to certain of the Company’s products. It is possible that the Company could receive an assessment from the Tax Administration Service after these discussions are completed. The Company believes that it has meritorious defenses if an assessment is issued by the Tax Administration Service and does not believe a loss is currently probable. The Company is currently unable to reasonably estimate the amount of loss that may result from an unfavorable outcome if a formal assessment is issued by the Tax Administration Service.
The Company has received tax assessments for multiple years from the Federal Revenue Office of Brazil related to withholding/contributions based on payments to the Company’s Members. In February 2022, the Company received a mixed verdict related to the 2004 tax assessment which reduced the exposure to the Company. The aggregate combined amount of all these assessments is equivalent to approximately $11.3 million, translated at the September 30, 2023 spot rate. The Company is currently litigating these assessments and has issued a surety bond for certain of these amounts. The Company has not accrued a loss for the majority of the assessments because the Company does not believe a loss is probable. 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 is under examination in several Brazilian states related to ICMS and ICMS-ST taxation. Some of these examinations have resulted in assessments for underpaid tax that the Company has appealed. The State of São Paulo has audited the Company for the 2013 and 2014 tax years. During July 2016, for the State of São Paulo, the Company received an assessment in the aggregate amount of approximately $32.0 million, translated at the September 30, 2023 spot rate, relating to various ICMS issues for its 2013 tax year.
During August 2017, for the State of São Paulo, the Company received an assessment in the aggregate amount of approximately $11.9 million, translated at the September 30, 2023 spot rate, relating to various ICMS issues for its 2014 tax year. The Company is appealing both of these assessments. The Company recently received an unfavorable decision at the Third Level Administrative Court on the 2013 tax year case and in October 2023, the Company received a notice that requires the Company to provide a guarantee in order to litigate the case at the Judicial level. The Company plans to obtain and provide a surety bond for approximately $43 million so it can litigate the case at the Judicial level. The 2014 tax year case is at the Third Level Administrative Court. During September 2018, for the State of Rio de Janeiro, the Company received an assessment in the aggregate amount of approximately $7.0 million, translated at the September 30, 2023 spot rate, relating to various ICMS-ST issues for its 2016 and 2017 tax years. The Company is appealing this assessment and the case is at the First Level Judicial Court. The Company has also received other ICMS tax assessments in Brazil. During the fourth quarter of 2015, the Company filed appeals with state judicial courts against three of the assessments. The Company had issued surety bonds in the aggregate amount of $12.5 million, translated at the September 30, 2023 spot rate, to guarantee payment of some of the tax assessments as required while the Company pursues the appeals. In addition, the Company has received several ICMS tax assessments in the aggregate amount of $3.6 million, translated at the September 30, 2023 spot rate, from several other Brazilian states where surety bonds have not been issued. Litigation in all these cases is currently ongoing. The Company has not recognized a loss relating to any of these cases, assessments, and matters as the Company does not believe a loss is probable.
The Company has received various tax assessments in multiple jurisdictions in India for multiple years from the Indian VAT and Service Tax authorities in an amount equivalent to approximately $12.4 million, translated at the September 30, 2023 spot rate. These assessments are for underpaid VAT and the ability to claim input Service Tax credits. The Company is litigating these cases at the tax administrative level and the tax tribunal levels as it believes it has meritorious defenses. The Company has not recognized a loss as it does not believe a loss is probable. In addition, the Indian income tax authorities audited the Company’s fiscal years ended March 31, 2017, 2018, 2020, and 2021 and the Company has received assessments for tax and interest of approximately $17.5 million, $17.0 million, $14.7 million, and $16.6 million for those respective years, translated at the September 30, 2023 spot rate. These assessments are subject to penalty adjustments. For the assessments related to fiscal years March 31, 2017 and March 31, 2018, the Company received a favorable verdict at the Tax Tribunal level; however, the Company anticipates the Government to appeal the verdict related to fiscal years ended March 31, 2017 and March 31, 2018 to the High Court. The Company intends to litigate these cases for fiscal years ended March 31, 2017, 2018, 2020, and 2021. The Company currently believes that it is more likely than not that it will be successful in supporting its positions relating to these assessments. Accordingly, the Company has not accrued any amounts relating to these matters. In addition, the Indian income tax authorities are auditing multiple years and it is uncertain whether additional assessments will be received.
The Korea Customs Service audited the importation activities of Herbalife Korea for the period January 2011 through May 2013. The total assessment for the audit period was approximately $25 million. The Company had paid the assessment in order to litigate the case and had previously recognized these payments in other assets within its consolidated balance sheet. The Company filed appeals at the administrative and judicial levels related to this case and in May 2022, the High Court issued a favorable verdict to the Company on narrow technical grounds without addressing the core of the Company's arguments. The Company filed a limited scope appeal to Supreme Court of Korea on the core of the Company's arguments where the Supreme Court declined the Company's appeal but upheld the favorable verdict that was issued by the High Court. Therefore, despite the customs assessment being nullified, the Korea Customs Service could still issue a new assessment to the Company for the same period. In October 2022, the Korea Customs Service refunded the approximately $25 million assessed amount to the Company since the assessment had been nullified by the Courts and the Company reduced its other assets within its consolidated balance sheet by the same corresponding amount. In September 2023, the Company received a reassessment for $6.7 million relating to the January 2011 through May 2013 period and subsequently paid the reassessment. The Korea Customs Service audited the importation activities of Herbalife Korea for various periods from May 2013 through December 2017. The total assessments for these audit periods were $32.6 million, translated at the September 30, 2023 spot rate. The Company had paid these assessments and had recognized these payments in other assets within its condensed consolidated balance sheet, which were being litigated at the administration and judicial levels. In October 2023, the Company reached a $8.6 million settlement with the Korea Customs Service for all of the foregoing assessments for the periods from January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2017. As a result of the settlement, the Company recognized a loss of approximately $8.6 million in selling, general, and administrative expenses within its condensed consolidated statements of income for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2023. In addition, the Company reclassified approximately $30 million of its previously paid tax assessments from other assets to current assets within its condensed consolidated balance sheet as of September 30, 2023, and during October 2023, this amount was refunded to the Company by the Korea Customs Service.
During the course of 2016, the Company received various questions from the Greek Social Security Agency and on December 29, 2016, the Greek Social Security Agency issued assessments with respect to Social Security Contributions on Member earnings for the 2006 year. For Social Security issues, the statute of limitations is open for 2012 and later years in Greece. Despite the assessment amount being immaterial, the Company could receive similar assessments covering other years. The Company continues to litigate the assessment. The Company has not recognized a loss as it does not believe a loss is probable. 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.
U.S. Federal Trade Commission Consent Order
On July 15, 2016, the Company and the Federal Trade Commission, or the FTC, entered into a proposed Stipulation to Entry of Order for Permanent Injunction and Monetary Judgment, or the Consent Order. The Consent Order was lodged with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on July 15, 2016 and became effective on July 25, 2016, or the Effective Date. The Consent Order resolved the FTC’s multi-year investigation of the Company.
Pursuant to the Consent Order, under which the Company neither admitted nor denied the FTC’s allegations (except as to the Court having jurisdiction over the matter), the Company made, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Herbalife International of America, Inc., a $200 million payment to the FTC. Additionally, the Company implemented and continues to enhance certain existing procedures in the U.S. Among other requirements, the Consent Order requires the Company to categorize all existing and future Members in the U.S. as either “preferred members” – who are simply consumers who only wish to purchase products for their own household use, or “distributors” – who are Members who wish to resell some products or build a sales organization. The Company also agreed to compensate distributors on eligible U.S. sales within their downline organization, which include purchases by preferred members, purchases by a distributor for his or her personal consumption within allowable limits and sales of product by a distributor to his or her customers. The Consent Order also imposes restrictions on a distributor’s ability to open Nutrition Clubs in the United States. The Consent Order subjects the Company to certain audits by an independent compliance auditor for a period of seven years; imposes requirements on the Company regarding compliance certification and record creation and maintenance; and prohibits the Company, its affiliates and its distributors from making misrepresentations and misleading claims regarding, among other things, income and lavish lifestyles. The FTC and the independent compliance auditor have the right to inspect Company records and request additional compliance reports for purposes of conducting audits pursuant to the Consent Order. In September 2016, the Company and the FTC mutually selected Affiliated Monitors, Inc. to serve as the independent compliance auditor. The Company continues to monitor the impact of the Consent Order and, while the Company currently does not expect the settlement to have a long-term and materially adverse impact on its business and its Member base, the Company’s business and its Member base, particularly in the United States, may be negatively impacted. If the Company is unable to comply with the Consent Order then this could result in a material and adverse impact to the Company’s results of operations and financial condition.
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. The Company currently maintains product liability insurance with an annual deductible of $12.5 million.
As previously disclosed, the SEC and the Department of Justice, or DOJ, conducted investigations into the Company’s compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA, in China. Also, as previously disclosed, the Company conducted its own review and implemented remedial and improvement measures based upon this review, including replacement of certain employees and enhancements of Company policies and procedures in China. The Company cooperated with the SEC and the DOJ and reached separate resolutions with each of them.
On August 28, 2020, the SEC accepted the Offer of Settlement and issued an administrative order finding that the Company violated the books and records and internal controls provisions of the FCPA. In addition, on August 28, 2020, the Company and the DOJ separately entered into a court-approved deferred prosecution agreement, or DPA, under which the DOJ deferred criminal prosecution of the Company for a period of three years related to a conspiracy to violate the books and records provisions of the FCPA. Among other things, the Company was required to undertake compliance self-reporting obligations for the three-year terms of the agreements with the SEC and the DOJ. The DPA’s three-year term expired on August 28, 2023. If it is determined by the DOJ that the Company has remained in compliance throughout the term, the deferred charge against the Company will be dismissed with prejudice. The Company believes that it has remained in compliance and fulfilled its obligations under the SEC and DOJ agreements. In addition, the Company paid the SEC and the DOJ aggregate penalties, disgorgement and prejudgment interest of approximately $123 million in September 2020, of which $83 million and $40 million were recognized in selling, general, and administrative expenses within the Company’s consolidated statements of income for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively, related to this matter. Any failure to comply with these agreements, or any resulting further government action, could result in a material and adverse impact to the Company’s business, financial condition, and operating results.
On September 18, 2017, the Company and certain of its subsidiaries and Members were named as defendants in a purported class action lawsuit, titled Rodgers, et al. v Herbalife Ltd., et al. and filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, which alleges violations of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices statute and federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statutes, unjust enrichment, and negligent misrepresentation. On August 23, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida issued an order transferring the action to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California as to four of the putative class plaintiffs and ordering the remaining four plaintiffs to arbitration, thereby terminating the Company defendants from the Florida action. The plaintiffs seek damages in an unspecified amount. While the Company continues to believe the lawsuit is without merit, and without admitting liability or wrongdoing, the Company and the plaintiffs have reached a settlement. Under the principal terms of the settlement, the Company would pay $12.5 million into a fund to be distributed to qualified claimants. As of September 30, 2023, this amount has been adequately reserved for within the Company’s condensed consolidated financial statements. The settlement is subject to the preliminary and final approval of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The preliminary approval hearing took place on October 24, 2022, and the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California granted preliminary approval on April 6, 2023. Per the terms of the agreement, Herbalife established a settlement fund and deposited $12.5 million into an escrow account on April 19, 2023, which was included in prepaid expenses and other current assets within its condensed consolidated balance sheet as of September 30, 2023. On October 16, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California held the final approval hearing, and granted final approval of the settlement, but has not yet issued a final order.
On January 17, 2022, the Company filed a lawsuit, titled Herbalife International of America, Inc. vs. Eastern Computer Exchange, Inc., against a former technology services vendor in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The Company alleges claims of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraudulent concealment, conversion, and declaratory relief related to the defendant’s request for payment for technology services and products that the company never authorized. The defendant asserted numerous counterclaims against the Company. On December 28, 2022, the Court partially granted a motion to dismiss counterclaims, leaving only breach of contract, promissory estoppel, and declaratory relief counterclaims. The Company believes the defendant’s counterclaims are without merit and will vigorously defend itself while pursuing relief for its own claims. Summary judgment motions have been filed, but not yet ruled upon. The current trial date for the action is March 12, 2024. The Company is currently unable to reasonably estimate the amount of the loss that may result from an unfavorable outcome and does not believe a loss is probable.