No "Easy Button" for Delaware VDAs: Pricetag of Staples Settlement Disclosed — $8.9 Million

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In 2010, office supplies company Staples, Inc. got into a public dispute with the Delaware State Escheator, over the latter’s attempts to collect unclaimed property allegedly due from Staples.  As recounted here by Business Week, the controversy started when Staples approached Delaware in connection with a “Voluntary Disclosure Agreement” or VDA.  Pursuant to the VDA program, a holder that is not under audit can voluntarily approach the state and disclose past liability.  The state, in turn, generally agrees to waive interest and penalties that might otherwise be assessed on the property.  Here, Staples ultimately admitted owing approximately $150,000 in past due liability.

As many in this industry know, however, doing a VDA with Delaware is not as simple as it seems.  Here, Delaware refused to accept the results of Staples’ VDA, and commenced its own audit.  Ultimately, according to Business Week, the state presented Staples with an assessment of $3.9 million.  The litigation moved along for about two years in Delaware state court.

Earlier this summer, the parties jointly announced the settlement of the matter, and noted that the terms were “confidential.”  Apparently, that did not sit well with the Associated Press, which challenged the parties’ assertion of confidentiality.  The AP ultimately prevailed:  according to CBS News, among other sources, we now know the full pricetag:  $8.9 Million.  To put that number in context, here are some things you can buy with $8.9 million: