Judgment Would Settle FTC Charges That Harry Siskind Lied About His Net Worth To Avoid Penalties For Violating Federal Law
Harry Siskind, former President of Mark Nutritionals, Inc., the now defunct maker of Body Solutions Evening Weight Loss Formula, has agreed to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission that he falsified his financial statements in an effort to hide assets from the Commission and to obtain a more favorable settlement to a lawsuit filed against him by the FTC. The agreed order, announced today, calls for a judgment of $155 million to be entered against Siskind, personally, and provides for findings by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas that Siskind failed to disclose material assets and materially misrepresented the value of assets in financial statements he provided to the FTC and the court. If the district court approves the proposed settlement, the $155 million would be due immediately.
Original Suit Against Siskind
In December 2002, the Commission sued Siskind and several other defendants alleging that they engaged in a nationwide scheme to bilk millions of consumers out of $155 million. The FTC reached settlement agreements with all defendants in the fall of 2003. The settlement with Siskind required him to pay $500,000 and was based on his sworn financial statements that he had no additional assets. The FTC later uncovered evidence establishing that Siskind falsified the financial statements, upon which the Commission relied in accepting the original settlement.
The original settlement with Siskind also contained a $155 million suspended judgment and provided that, if his financial disclosures contained misrepresentations, a judgment for the full $155 million would be entered against him.
Commission’s Motion to Reinstate the $155 Million Judgment
In May 2004, the Commission filed a motion detailing Siskind’s false financial statements and asking the district court to reinstate the $155 million judgment against him. The Commission’s motion alleged that Siskind misrepresented the nature, cost, and value of assets worth approximately $600,000 and failed to disclose assets worth an additional $300,000. The FTC charged that Siskind’s actions were not mere oversights, but rather part of an elaborate scheme to defraud the FTC and the district court. Just prior to a hearing on the Commission’s motion, Siskind agreed to the reinstatement of the full suspended judgment in the amount of $155 million. The proposed settlement also would require Siskind to cooperate fully with the Commission in all attempts to collect the amounts due, including cooperating with attempts to locate, liquidate, and/or transfer assets.
The stipulated order to reinstate suspended judgment for $155 million against defendant Harry Siskind was filed in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division, on October 21, 2004. The Commission vote authorizing staff to file the stipulated order was 4-0-1, with Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour recused.
Copies of the Stipulated Order to Reinstate Suspended Judgment for $155 Million Against Defendant Harry Siskind and Plaintiff’s Motion to Enforce the Stipulated Final Order are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
(FTC Matter No. X0300120; Civil Action No. SA02CA1151 XR)
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