Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General

New York to get $660M in tobacco settlements

May 18, 2016

As published in The Journal News on October 20, 2015.

ALBANY – The windfalls keep coming for New York.

In separate announcements Tuesday, regulators said they’ve received settlements that will add more than $660 million to New York’s general fund — the latest infusion of cash into the state’s coffers.

The state has received $7.5 billion from financial firms to settle legal actions over the past two years, mostly related to the 2008 financial crisis, according to the state Comptroller’s Office.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a settlement with major tobacco companies Tuesday that will bring $550 million to New York, including $281 million to the state, $147 million to New York City and $122 million to counties outside the city.

The pot includes nearly $11 million for Westchester County, $3 million for Rockland.

The funds, trapped in an escrow account during a decade-long dispute between the state and tobacco companies, will be dispersed throughout the state, Schneiderman said. The tobacco companies have disputed these reimbursements for years through loopholes such as the dispute-resolution procedures laid out in the original master settlement agreement.

The funds will be available as soon as the independent auditor of the master settlement agreement is able to make payment, which should be no later than April.

“Big Tobacco must pay for the damage it has done and continues to inflict on communities across New York state,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “My office will continue to hold these companies accountable for the burden their addictive, deadly products impose on the taxpayers of this state, and we will act to ensure that the people of New York are compensated for the enormous harms they have suffered.”

Under the new agreement between the state and tobacco companies, 90 percent, or $550 million, of the withheld funds will be released and future payments will be made according to a set formula with no disputed withholdings, according to a statement from Schneiderman’s office.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Financial Services for the State of New York announced that Crédit Agricole will pay $787 million and install an independent monitor for New York banking Law violations in connection with transactions between 2003 and 2008 on behalf of countries and entities subject to U.S. sanctions, including Sudan, Iran, Myanmar and Cuba.

Of the settlement money, $385 million will go to the state, $90 million will go to the Federal Reserve and $156 million will go to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.