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SEC fines tech company $23 million for FCPA violations

Financial Crimes Of Interest to Non-US Persons SEC Bribery Enforcement FCPA Turkey United Arab Emirates India

Financial Crimes

On September 27, the SEC announced that a multinational information technology company headquartered in Texas  (the “Company”) agreed to pay over $23 million to settle claims that its agents and employees of its subsidiaries in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and India violated the anti-bribery, books and records, and internal accounting controls provisions of the FCPA. According to the SEC’s order, from at least 2014 through 2019, several subsidiary employees used discount schemes and false marketing reimbursement payments to create slush funds used to bribe foreign officials in exchange for business. The slush funds were also used to provide other benefits, including paying for foreign officials and their families to attend technology conferences around the world and trips to the U.S. The SEC explained that first-level supervisors at the subsidiaries could approve purchase orders under $5,000 without evidence that marketing activity actually took place. By exploiting this loophole in the company’s controls, employees of the Company’s subsidiaries in Turkey, the UAE, and India were able to funnel money into the slush funds undetected. Employees of the Turkish subsidiary allegedly used the funds to bribe government officials and pay for the travel and accommodation expenses of customers, including foreign officials, the SEC claimed. Employees of the UAE subsidiary allegedly used the funds to pay $130,000 in bribes to government officials in exchange for six contracts. Employees in India also allegedly engaged in a similar scheme, with one employee claiming that the Company would lose out on a deal if the Indian Ministry of Railways was not provided a 70 percent software discount. According to the SEC, the Ministry’s procurement website showed that the Indian subsidiary faced no competition because the Ministry required the use of the Company’s products for the project.

The resolution requires the Company to pay a $15 million civil money penalty, $7,114,376 million in disgorgement, and $791,040 in prejudgment interest. The Company neither admitted nor denied the allegations.

This is the second time the Company has resolved FCPA charges with the SEC. In 2012, the Company paid a $2 million penalty to settle allegations that it violated the anti-bribery, books and records, and internal accounting controls provisions of the FCPA when it allegedly failed to prevent an India subsidiary from maintaining unauthorized side funds at distributors.