Friday, July 29, 2011
The SEC recently charged London-based Diageo plc, one of the world’s largest producers of premium alcoholic beverages, with widespread violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) stemming from more than six years of improper payments to government officials in India, Thailand, and South Korea. The SEC found that Diageo paid more than $2.7 million to obtain lucrative sales and tax benefits relating to its Johnnie Walker and Windsor Scotch whiskeys, among other brands. Diageo agreed to pay more than $16 million to settle the SEC’s charges. The company also agreed to cease and desist from further violations of the FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions.
The SEC’s order found that Diageo violated Sections 13(b)(2)(A) and 13(b)(2)(B) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Without admitting or denying the findings, Diageo agreed to cease and desist from further violations and pay $11,306,081 in disgorgement, prejudgment interest of $2,067,739, and a financial penalty of $3 million. Diageo cooperated with the SEC’s investigation and implemented certain remedial measures, including the termination of employees involved in the misconduct and significant enhancements to its FCPA compliance program.