In 2010, William Villanueva, CEO of Saybolt Columbia, a subsidiary of Core, refused to sign a false tax return. Core accountants were making false claims to evade the Columbian value added tax (“VAT”). Core Laboratories NV is a publicly–traded company in Houston that offers services to the petroleum industry.
Upon Villanueva’s refusal to sign a false tax return, Core fired him. Villanueva subsequentially reported retaliatory efforts by Core to the Department of Labor. The decision of an administrative law judge to dismiss Villanueva’s claims on the grounds that Villaneuva worked outside of the U.S. raised the question of whether SOX can apply to employees who work on off-shore subsidiaries.
As per the request of the Administrative Review Board (“ARB”), whom Villanueva had appealed to, the National Whistleblower Center and the National Employment Lawyers Association (“NELA”) jointly filed an amicus brief in support of Villanueva. The amicus brief argued that Villanueva’s case does not raise the issues of “extraterritorial application of SOX since his protected activity consisted of emails sent to the US and the decision to fire him was made in the US.” Furthermore, it argues that “the very nature of SOX (enacted after Enron and other companies abused off-shore subsidiaries to defraud shareholders) requires that SOX apply to all subsidiaries of companies traded in the US stock markets.”
Photo by Dmitrij Paskevic