Federal authorities slapped the Ralph Lauren Corporation with more than $1.6 million in penalties after bribery charges against the company were made. Investigators confirmed that illegal payoffs between customs officials and a “top executive in Latin America” were taking place to get around local regulations. Illicit payments were made by a general manager who worked in the firms subsidiary in Argentina. The general manager remains unnamed.
An agreement was announced with the Ralph Lauren Corp. by Brooklyn federal prosecutors. It was acknowledged by the firm that the executive, who is a dual citizen of both Argentina and the United States, violated “the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by bribing customs officials over a five-year period to help speed the clearance of goods through inspection.” This speed up of goods meant that items were permitted through customs without having the proper paperwork, prohibited items were overlooked and at times some goods weren’t even inspected, officials said.
Federal agents did not charge any of the executives personally because of the cooperation made by the firm. However, the firm has agreed to pay $882,000 in penalties to resolve the US Justice Department case as well as an additional $734,846 in disgorgement and prejudgment interest with relation to the SEC case. The firm also stated that they will implement reform measures which include ethics and anti-bribery training.
“The conduct at the Argentina subsidiary was wholly inconsistent with the culture of compliance and integrity that we have worked diligently to establish and, as our reaction demonstrates, such conduct is not and will not be tolerated at Ralph Lauren Corporation,” the firm said.
– Jamie Wilson
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