Unpaid fees could mean fines for Brink’s

Early estimates: Fines may run up to $50 mil.
Wednesday, September 1, 2004

RICHMOND, Va. - In The Brink’s Company’s second quarter results, came an unexpected announcement - an investigation of unpaid customs and taxes and that it could be hit with up to $50 million in penalties.

The company, which is the parent organization of Brink’s Home Security, declared that it had discovered that a non-U.S.-based Brink’s Inc. business had not paid approximately $3 million in foreign duties and value-added taxes on imports of various goods and services. The name of business was not released, but company officials said it was part of its armored truck divison, which operates in 120 countries.

The announcement shocked investors and analysts - the later of which expressed their frustrations during a conference call that discussed the announcement - especially coming from a company that has been able to stay out of the controversy fray.

The Brink’s Company initially estimated that penalties could rise into the $85 million range, but that amount was downsized to between $0 to $50 million five days later. Scott Dudley, director of investor relations at The Brink’s Company, said more information will be made available in the future.

“We are continuing our investigation,” Dudley said, “Out of further investigation and analysis we will come to determine more about the situation.”

One thing Dudley said was certain is that the situation does focus on a division of the company located outside of the United States.

“It focuses on a non-U.S. Brink’s unit,” he said.

Until additional information comes to the forefront, there are many questions to be answered. The main one lying on how this will affect the company’s other divisions, including Brink’s Home Security.

The company’s disclosure of the information didn’t stop investors from shying away from the company’s stock, which dropped nearly 20 percent the day after the announcement.

Brink’s said that the company was not contacted by officials regarding the unpaid duties, but chose instead to announce the findings independently. Dudley said this is the way businesses need to operate today to stay respectable in the eyes of investors.

“Companies are spending a lot of money on research,” Dudley said. “They need to look at policies and procedures to make sure they are up to date on reporting.”