Ralph Lauren pays $1.6M over Argentine bribes
Apparel company reported violations to U.S. regulators
Ralph Lauren Corp. will pay about $1.6 million to resolve U.S. regulatory and criminal claims that one of its subsidiaries bribed officials in Argentina.
The company has settled claims by the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission that bribes were paid to Argentine import officials between 2005 and 2009, federal authorities said Monday. The bribes violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Ralph Lauren will give up more than $700,000 of illicit profits and pay an $882,000 penalty.
The New York-based apparel company promptly reported the violations after discovering them in 2010, terminated culpable employees and a third-party agent, and shut down its offices and stores in Argentina, officials said.
The company won't be prosecuted.
"The [agreement] in this matter makes clear that we will confer substantial and tangible benefits on companies that respond appropriately to violations and co-operate fully with the SEC," said George Canellos, acting director of the commission’s enforcement division.
The SEC said bribes of $593,000 were paid over four years through a customs broker to get Ralph Lauren products into Argentina without necessary paperwork and to avoid inspection of prohibited products. The violations were found when the company adopted measures to improve its worldwide internal controls.
U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch in New York said the agreement acknowledges that the manager of the Lauren subsidiary in Argentina bribed customs officials to get goods into the country, disguising them by funnelling money through a customs clearance agency.
The company agreed to co-operate with the Justice Department, report periodically on its compliance efforts and continue internal controls to prevent violations.
"The company did all the right things," said Ralph Lauren attorney Thomas Hanusik.
With files from The Associated Press