§ 502.604Compromise of penalties: Relation to assessment proceedings.
(a)Scope. Except in pending civil penalty assessment proceedings provided for in § 502.603, the Commission, when it has reason to believe a violation has occurred, may invoke the informal compromise procedures of this section.
(b)Notice. When the Commission considers it appropriate to afford an opportunity for the compromise of a civil penalty, it will, except when otherwise authorized by the Commission, or where circumstances render it unnecessary, send a Notice and Demand Letter (“NDL”) to the respondent, by registered or certified mail, or by other means reasonably calculated to give notice. The NDL will describe specific violation(s) on which the claim is based, including the particular facts, dates and other elements necessary for the respondent to identify the specific conduct constituting the alleged violation; the amount of the penalty demanded; the availability of alternative dispute resolution, including mediation, through the Commission's Office of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services; and the names of Commission personnel with whom the demand may be discussed, if the person desires to compromise the penalty. The NDL also will state the deadlines for the institution and completion of compromise negotiations and the consequences of failure to compromise.
(c)Request for compromise. Any person receiving a NDL provided for in paragraph (b) of this section may, within the time specified, deny the violation, or submit matters explaining, mitigating or showing extenuating circumstances, as well as make voluntary disclosures of information and documents.
(d)Criteria for compromise. In addition to the factors set forth in § 502.603(b), in compromising a penalty claim, the Commission may consider litigative probabilities, the cost of collecting the claim and enforcement policy.
(e)Disposition of claims in compromise procedures.
(1) When a penalty is compromised and the respondent agrees to settle for that amount, a compromise agreement shall be executed. (One example of such compromise agreement is set forth as appendix A to this subpart.) This agreement, after reciting the nature of the claim, will include a statement evidencing the respondent's agreement to the compromise of the Commission's penalty claim for the amount set forth in the agreement and will also embody an approval and acceptance provision which is to be signed by the appropriate Commission official. Upon compromise of the penalty in the agreed amount, a duplicate original of the executed agreement shall be furnished to the respondent.
(2) Upon completion of the compromise, the Commission may issue a public notice thereof, the terms and language of which are not subject to negotiation.
(f)Relation to assessment proceedings. Except by order of the Commission, no compromise procedure shall be initiated or continued after institution of a Commission assessment proceeding directed to the same violations. Any offer of compromise submitted by the respondent pursuant to this section shall be deemed to have been furnished by the respondent without prejudice and shall not be used against the respondent in any proceeding.
(g)Delegation of compromise authority. The Director, Bureau of Enforcement, is delegated authority to issue NDLs and compromise civil penalties as set forth in this subpart, provided, however, that approval of the Managing Director is obtained prior to issuance of each NDL and provided further that compromise agreements shall not be effective unless approved by the Managing Director, whose signature evidencing approval shall appear on compromise agreements, in addition to that of the Director of the Bureau of Enforcement. The Director, Bureau of Enforcement, has the authority to negotiate the terms of compromise agreements.