An­heuser-Busch pays $6M to settle In­dia bribery ac­cu­sa­tions

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - MARKETPLACE -

WASH­ING­TON >> An­heuser­Busch InBev will pay $6 mil­lion to settle charges by U.S. reg­u­la­tors that it paid off gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials in In­dia to boost sales and pro­duc­tion, then tried to quiet an em­ployee who raised the is­sue.

A joint ven­ture in which An­heuser-Busch InBev had a 49 per­cent in­ter­est used third-party sales pro­mot­ers to make pay­ments to In­dian of­fi­cials in vi­o­la­tion of the For­eign Cor­rupt Prac­tices Act, the Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Com­mis­sion said Wed­nes­day.

The law is typ­i­cally used to pre­vent bribery.

An­heuser-Busch InBev must, for two years, co­op­er­ate with the SEC and no­tify some former em­ploy­ees that they are not pro­hib­ited from con­tact­ing the SEC about pos­si­ble vi­o­la­tions, ac­cord­ing to the set­tle­ment.

An­heuser-Busch InBev en­tered into a sep­a­ra­tion agree­ment with the whistle­blow­ing em­ployee that in­cluded nondis­clo­sure and a “sub­stan­tial fi­nan­cial penalty” for vi­o­lat­ing the agree­ment, ac­cord­ing to the SEC.

De­spite re­peated com­plaints from em­ploy­ees, the com­pany, now based in Leu­ven, Bel­gium, had in­ad­e­quate in­ter­nal ac­count­ing con­trols to de­tect and pre­vent the pay­ments, the SEC said.

“An­heuser-Busch InBev recorded im­proper pay­ments by its sales pro­mot­ers in In­dia as le­git­i­mate ex­penses in its fi­nan­cial ac­count­ing, and then ex­ac­er­bated the prob­lem by in­clud­ing lan­guage in a sep­a­ra­tion agree­ment that chilled an em­ployee from com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the SEC,” said Kara Brock­meyer, chief of the SEC En­force­ment Di­vi­sion’s FCPA Unit.

An­heuser-Busch InBev said in a com­pany re­lease that the vi­o­la­tions came sev­eral years be­fore it be­gan in­de­pen­dent op­er­a­tions in In­dia in 2015, and that it sub­se­quently trained its In­dian em­ploy­ees on com­pli­ance.

The set­tle­ment ar­rived on the same day that SABMiller, which makes Fos­ters and Miller beer, an­nounced its share­hold­ers had ap­proved a $103 bil­lion takeover byAn­heuser-Busch InBev.

Share­holder ap­proval was the last ma­jor hur­dle in a deal that will give the com­bined com­pany con­trol of al­most a third of the global beer mar­ket.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

It was an­nounced Wed­nes­day that Bud­weiser maker An­heuser-Busch InBev will pay $6 mil­lion to the Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Com­mis­sion to settle charges that the com­pany made im­proper pay­ments to gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials in In­dia to pro­mote its prod­ucts and then tried to hush an em­ployee who re­ported the vi­o­la­tions.

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