Federal Authorities Announce FCPA Action Against Ralph Lauren, First SEC Non-Prosecution Agreement
On April 22, the DOJ and the SEC announced parallel actions against Ralph Lauren to resolve allegations that a subsidiary of the company paid bribes to Argentine officials over a several-year period to obtain improper customs clearance of merchandise. The SEC action included the agency's first non-prosecution agreement related to FCPA misconduct, which the SEC determined was appropriate given "Ralph Lauren's prompt reporting of the violations on its own initiative, the completeness of the information it provided, and its extensive, thorough, and real-time cooperation with the SEC's investigation." According to the SEC's NPA, Ralph Lauren's cooperation involved (i) reporting preliminary findings of its internal investigation to the staff within two weeks of discovering the illegal payments and gifts, (ii) voluntarily and expeditiously producing documents, (iii) providing English language translations of documents to the staff, (iv) summarizing witness interviews that the company's investigators conducted overseas, and (v) making overseas witnesses available for staff interviews and bringing witnesses to the U.S. The SEC agreement also required Ralph Lauren to pay over $700,000 in disgorgement and prejudgment interest, while the DOJ required the company to pay a nearly $900,000 penalty.