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Havas, other holding companies, under federal investigation for media buying malpractice

The DOJ has launched an investigation in media buying malpractice with Havas and other holding companies / Sebastian Pichler

US federal prosecutors have launched a probe into the media buying practices of Havas, as well as other members of the “big six” holding companies.

According to the Wall Street Journal, subpoenas have been issued to the holding company by the feds, based off of FBI interviews conducted within the past few months. Those inquiries were reportedly about the industry’s practices overall, as well as a 2016 investigation done by the ANA on transparency issues and other shady practices from agency partners.

Among issues that surfaced in that study: the receipt of cash rebates from media sellers for reaching spending thresholds and not returning those funds to clients.

When the 2016 study was released, agencies had denied wrongdoing, leading to rift between agencies and client partners. When The Drum spoke to the 4A’s Marla Kaplowitz in January about the relationship between the organization and the ANA, she had mentioned that the two organizations had planned to work together on issues such as transparency.

A separate 2016 investigation done by the Justice Department had looked into the potential manipulation of bids by ad agencies, deemed illegal by the federal government.

The Drum has not received commentary from Havas or any other agencies mentioned at the time of this writing.

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