WPP pays $19 million in bribery settlement with U.S. SEC

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WASHINGTON, Sept 24 (Reuters) – Britain’s WPP has agreed to pay greater than $19 million in a settlement with U.S. authorities regarding bribery allegations and accounting controls for its subsidiaries, together with in India and China.

The world’s largest promoting agency didn’t admit or deny allegations that it violated provisions of the International Corrupt Practices Act however agreed to pay the penalty, the U.S. Securities and Change Fee mentioned.

The SEC order discovered that WPP failed to make sure that subsidiaries it acquired carried out its inner accounting controls and compliance insurance policies.

WPP carried out an aggressive enterprise development technique that included buying majority pursuits in lots of localized promoting companies in high-risk markets, it mentioned, citing potential conflicts in India, China, Brazil and Peru throughout a interval between 2013 and 2018.

WPP mentioned it had modified its enterprise practices since then.

“Because the Fee’s Order recognises, WPP’s new management has put in place strong new compliance measures and controls, essentially modified its strategy to acquisitions, cooperated absolutely with the Fee and terminated these concerned in misconduct,” the corporate mentioned in a press release.

WPP founder Martin Sorrell, who declined to remark to Reuters on the settlement, led the corporate for greater than 30 years earlier than he stop in April 2018. He was changed as chief govt by Mark Learn, one other firm veteran.

WPP didn’t “promptly or adequately reply to repeated warning indicators of corruption or management failures at sure subsidiaries,” the SEC mentioned.

In a single instance cited by the fee, a subsidiary in India continued to bribe Indian authorities officers in return for promoting contracts though WPP had obtained seven nameless complaints regarding the conduct.

“An organization can not permit a concentrate on profitability or market share to come back on the expense of applicable controls,” mentioned SEC FCPA Unit Chief Charles Cain.

Friday’s transfer comes because the nation’s high securities watchdog seeks to stamp out abuses in U.S. markets attributable to a scarcity of required controls by corporations.

Reporting by Katanga Johnson; Modifying by Chizu Nomiyama, Keith Weir and Dan Grebler


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