February 23, 2024

Bucks: Troubled Employers and Your Company Charge Card

Buried near the end of a lengthy New York magazine profile of voluptuous financier Lynn Tilton was a nugget that caught our eye here at Bucks.

The story describes how an employee at Stila Cosmetics, a company that Tilton’s firm, Patriarch Partners, bought in a distress sale 2009, complained to Ms. Tilton that some workers “had found themselves personally saddled with the bill for their corporate AmEx.”

(Stila previously was owned by Sun Capital Partners, but ended up in the hands of its lenders after Stila defaulted on a loan, according to an account of the sale in The Wall Street Journal that is posted on Patriarch’s Web site.)

That didn’t seem fair — and in fact the scenario appears to conflict with information provided by American Express as to how such situations are usually handled.

Molly Faust, a spokeswoman for Amex’s global commercial card business, said she is unfamiliar with the specifics of the Stila situation. But there are two ways that companies can handle corporate Amex accounts. In the first option, companies are liable for card balances, whether or not their workers follow the company’s expense policy.

In the second option, employees can be on the hook — but only if they break the rules, like buying personal items on the card. Ms. Faust said both setups are common.

In general, she said, whether they work for a company in a distressed sale scenario or not, “corporate card members,” as American Express calls them, aren’t liable for the balance as they have met their responsibilities in managing the account. Those include following their employer’s expense policy, filing timely expense reports and submitting any reimbursements promptly to American Express (in some cases, companies pay the employee, who then uses the funds to pay the Amex balance).

American Express generally works with the company and the employee to sort things out. If a situation arises in which the card holder has paid their balance but hasn’t been reimbursed when the company runs into financial woes, “we would work with the card member,” she said. “If they have fulfilled their responsibilities, they are not held liable.”

In other words, as long as you didn’t treat your family to dinner at The Palm and charge it to the company plastic, and you have filed your legitimate expenses on time, you’re off the hook.

Or you should be, at least. The story attributes the anecdote to Emil Gioliotti, Patriarch’s managing director. He didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking more details of what happened with Stila’s corporate card holders. A spokesman for Patriarch, Steven Goldberg, declined to comment and referred an inquiry to Sun Capital, Stila’s previous owner. A Sun Capital spokeswoman said that no one was available to comment.

If nothing else, you may want to be extra careful about saving receipts and filing expense reports quickly if you’re worried about your company’s health.

Meanwhile, have any of you ever had trouble getting reimbursed for work expenses, or for money you fronted to a corporate card provider when you worked at a troubled company? If so we’d like to hear about it.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=699635f437e4603642f8f3e95a870f86

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