Failed to comply

Failed to comply

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In a previous article, I had reported about IHRB being sanctioned by the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code Council. Sam Cohen was warned, and he was asked to withdraw his advertisement. In a letter of 24 January 2007, he was told by the Chairman of the Panel, that IHRB’s attention is ‘drawn to the provisions of sub-regulations 42ZCAI(3) and (4) which permit the Panel to make recommendations to the Secretary in the event of non-compliance with this request.’ Sadly, one year later, it seemed that IHRB and Sam Cohen had failed to comply with the request of the Complaints Resolution Panel.

[UPDATE: New Sanctions in November 2011 found IHRB’s ads unlawful and misleading. Read the latest by clicking here. A copy of the original offending ad has now been retrieved from the archives and is featured at the bottom of this page.]

On the 17th of January 2008, under case number 13-0907, the Panel made a recommendation to the Secretary to the Department of Health & Ageing under Regulation 42ZCAI. IHRB was notified in writing of the recommendation and the reasons for such a recommendation.

In the first instance, Sam Cohen could have pleaded ignorance, perhaps saying that he had no intention to break any of the Codes. He could have asked for leniency, swearing that he and his advertising agency were not aware that they were misleading people or acting outside of the law of the land. One could have sympathised with such a plea. We all make mistakes. Sometimes, inadvertently, we find ourselves in hot water. However, to be sanctioned and to be warned and to ignore the Council and to persist with his conduct, and to flout the requests of the Council, goes beyond sympathy, and into the realm of stupidity.

In Sam Cohen’s case, his actions to disregard the Sanction does not surprise me in the least. He has no respect for anyone. The way he treats his staff is an immediate clue. When I was in his office asking for a refund for his failed mystical magical secret Indian Curries that did not work on my head (and only caused a painful rash which required a course of antibiotics), Sam swore at me in the most colourful and flagrant ways. He threatened me with violence. He came within millimetres of my face, as did his Liberace caberet rings, saying, ‘I’ll F#cking smash your face in’. If his client were someone less resolute than me, Sam would have reduced them to tears. If his client were someone more hot-headed than me, Sam would have had his wig knocked-off and his teeth punched in. I told him that he had better honour his contractual obligations and his guarantee, because I would take the matter further. His response was, ‘Who the f#ck do you think you are… king of Australia?’

Sam's large rings were prominent and obvious. I later understood that they are more than jewellery. They come in handy to intimidate people, as he tried to frighten me with his pseudo knuckle dusters, holding them to my face while hurling abuse. Little did he know that I had been threatened by tougher cretins. He was annoyed that I would not flinch. He failed to get my wilds up. That must have been frustrating for him. I had it all worked out in my head. He was two moves away from losing the family jewels.

He kept repeating this reverence to royalty. I formed the impression that Sam would have shown some modicum of reserve, had I been the king of Australia. Anyone else can go ‘get f#cked’ and do unspeakable things to their ‘grandmother’. Sam seems to operate in two modes: 1) Talk, lie, talk, lie, talk, lie… and 2) Intimidate, swear, intimidate, swear…

These are well rehearsed tactics. Sam miscalculated my calm disposition. He mistook it for weakness, and so he stayed on his high horse, going twenty-to-the-dozen, safe in the knowledge that he had asked his receptionist to call the police. He held his fist to my face, breathed all over me (smoking and curry are unflattering) and unleashed his torrent of intimidation, then, within a split second, yelled, ‘Call the police’. A pre-meditated tactic of cowardice: pick a fight, and call the police, as if to suggest that I had started it! Rat bags are made of this.

Anyway, the police did not come. So after a while, and after Sam threatened to lock me inside his 5th-floor office*, from which he was certain I could not escape, I called the police. When the officers arrived, I was not sure whether they were there upon my request, or upon the repeated requests of his receptionist. I gave a statement, and then Sam gave a statement. The funny thing was that I was asked to leave the CBD. Can you believe it? Sam had told them some cock and bull story (I was not there to hear it) and the police did not know what make of it. So they ordered me to leave the CBD. That’s fairness for you in full blast.

UPDATE: We now have the Police Report which you can read if you click here. Sadly, it is filled with lies.

*One thing I did not have time for, was to check if Sam’s threat of locking me in, and allegedly me not being able to exit the office, had any truth to the matter. If so, he would be adding OH&S irregularities to his fast-growing list.


Here is the ad that appeared in ‘The Sun Herald’ in Sydney on 6 August 2006. For a larger PDF, you can download a copy here: Sanctioned_IHRB_Ad_in_Sun_Herald_6_August_2006_sm.

P.S. If you want to know how seriously governments take scams and lies in relation to therapeutic goods, check out this story, filed by Nine News. It exposes a Mr Frank Sarcona who was sentenced to twenty years in prison after conning 130,000 people out of $10 million for his fake slimming pills. Losing weight and regrowing hair are big money spinners. Many get away with it for years. Sometimes, the law catches up with them. You can read the original statement by the United States Attorney’s Office here, and you can download the PDF of the Grand Jury Indictment. It makes for fascinating reading.

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