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Houston Legal Blog

FBI scrambling in wake of changing stories re cellphones

The FBI is not having a hard time convincing reasonable people that it has encountered difficulties accessing data from some cellphones that it has a court order to search.

Conversely, it is having a problem with this: getting its story straight on approximately how many phones are in its possession that resist attempts by the agency to unlock data that is allegedly tied to criminal activity.

What is the purpose of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act?

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 makes it unlawful for businesses and individuals to make payments to foreign government officials in an attempt to seek or retain business. For instance, it would be illegal to pay and bribe the president of a country to obtain his or her support of your technology company over other potential competing companies.

Essentially, it is against the law for certain people to bribe foreign officials because it could disrupt interstate commerce and give a business or individual an unfair advantage. The 1977 anti-bribery provisions apply to all people in the United States as well as foreign issuers of securities. In 1998, the act was extended to include foreign firms and people who make corrupt payments within the United States.

What is procurement fraud, and how can it ensnare a contractor?

“Tread carefully.”

Among other kernels of wisdom imparted to contractors working with the federal government in procurement matters, that admonition tops the list for things that contracting parties need to think about – and avoid – when doing business with public agencies.

Securities regulator seeks tougher standard on investment fraud

Professionals from myriad industries have unquestionably felt the increased scrutiny of civil regulators and criminal law enforcers in recent years, both at the state and federal levels. An increased national emphasis has clearly emerged concerning the identification and punishment of alleged wrongdoing in the realm of fraud and white collar criminal activity.

We have remarked on that reality in prior select posts. It is especially apparent in Texas, where state authorities are cracking down in a progressively harsh manner in everything from Medicare billing irregularities to suspected fraud across a broad spectrum.

Texas regulators focused like a laser on cryptocurrency schemes

Yes, there are legitimate cryptocurrency-linked entities doing business in Texas, say state financial regulators. A ranking securities official notes, though, that “all the toxic companies” vying for public attention make it flatly hard for a consumer to find one.

And that, reportedly, spells an outsized problem for Texas. The state is not alone for having crypto-scheme fraudsters in its midst, of course, but it reportedly has more than many other states do. Joe Rotunda, who heads the enforcement arm of the Texas State Securities Board, says that fraudulent digital currency schemes now surpass all other scams across the state aimed at “separating Texas investors from their money.”

Food for thought as clock ticks down on IRS tax program

The maxim “absence makes the heart grow fonder” was likely never used relative to a much-feared and widely disliked tax collection program administered by the IRS prior to its recent notation in an article written by a former government official.

That individual is ex-U.S. Department of Justice Tax Division head Caroline Caraolo. Her reference to heart warming is her way of stressing that legions of American tax filers might well come to rue rather than applaud the scheduled demise of the tax agency’s Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program this upcoming September.

The basic differences between tax evasion and tax avoidance

For most people the 2018 tax season has come and gone, and they are enjoying their federal income tax refund. For others, it is time to explore options to minimize the adverse effect of failing to file timely returns.

Yes, tax planning can be a complicated maze of calculated moves, but some may be seen as illegal measures to evade taxes. As such, it is important to know the basic differences between tax avoidance and tax evasion. This post will briefly explain. 

What is the grand jury process in a criminal case?

A grand jury, which can consist of 16 to 23 people, does not decide issues of guilt or punishment. Rather, it decides whether the government should initiate an indictment or criminal charges against a particular defendant. Grand juries are used in cases of serious felonies and can be held at both the state or federal levels.

Courts will usually use a preliminary hearing instead of a grand jury to decide whether the prosecution can bring forward charges against a defendant. In both cases, however, the process is about deciding whether sufficient probable cause or evidence exists to move forward with criminal proceedings against a particular person.

Controversial yet recurring: civil asset forfeiture seizures

A Washington Post article from earlier this month spotlighted a recent change in criminal law in one state that in turn highlights trending activity elsewhere across the country.

Not Texas, though.

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Contact Houston White Collar Lawyers for Experienced Representation

If you or your company is under investigation, charged or indicted for federal or state crimes, or you want to ensure future compliance, contact Hilder & Associates, P.C., for more information or to schedule an appointment with an experienced Houston white collar criminal defense lawyer.

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