Ralph Lauren Corp., the American maker of luxurious preppy fashions, will pay $1.6 million to settle bribery claims related to its dealings in Argentina.
In a 2010 internal review, the clothing company uncovered evidence of a subsidiary bribing Argentine officials to the tune of $593,000 over four years, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said in a statement.
Within two weeks of the discovery, Ralph Lauren reported the violations to the regulatory agency, offering up relevant documents translated into English, even bringing foreign witnesses to the U.S. for interviews, according to the SEC.
Its cooperation with authorities -- “the right thing” to do, according to the agency -- helped the New York-based company avoid prosecution, the SEC said.
But Ralph Lauren still has to pay $593,000 in disgorgement, $131,845.79 in prejudgment interest and $882,000 in penalties in parallel criminal proceedings by the U.S. Justice Department.
The SEC said the Ralph Lauren subsidiary bribed Argentine officials from 2005 through 2009, a breach of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The gifts and payments were meant to help the subsidiary avoid inspection of prohibited products and skip required paperwork.
Ralph Lauren has ceased operations in Argentina, according to the SEC.
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