NEW YORK – Fashion retailers illegally put millions of dollars into gift cards that consumers never used, New York Attorney General Letitia James said Thursday, paying H&M অভিযোগ 36 million to settle the lawsuit.
The Swedish company, whose full name is H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB, will pay রাজ 28.26 million to the state and হ 7.74 million to William French, a whistleblower.
James said H&M had illegally kept at least $ 18.4 million in unused gift card balances in its own bank account since 2008, instead of transferring the state’s abandoned property to the fund.
New York law requires gift card issuers to return unused cards to the balance sheet after five years of inactivity.
James added that H&M has repeatedly lied about missing transfers, claiming that an Ohio company that has no obligation to send balances to New York operates its gift card business.
“My office has zero tolerance for companies that ignore the law and line their pockets with their pocket money, which is for hardworking people,” James said in a statement. “Violation of the law is not prone or tolerable.”
H&M, based in Stockholm, specializes in “fast fashion”. It did not admit or deny injustice in agreeing to settle.
The company had no comment on the settlement.
H&M has about 4,800 stores worldwide and posted net sales of 199 billion Swedish kronor ($ 20.1 billion) in 2021, according to its website.
The French sued H&M in 2016, alleging it violated New York’s false claims law.
In a statement, his lawyer Daniel Miller said taxpayers should be “grateful” for his client’s efforts.
Customers of unused H&M gift cards issued between 2004 and 2014 can use them at H&M, or claim at the New York Office of Unclaimed Fund https://www.osc.state.ny.us/unclaimed-funds. ($ 1 = 9.90 SEK) (Reporting by Jonathan Stampel in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Bill Barcrott and Bernard Orr)