Fashion label Ralph Lauren has agreed to pay US$1.6m to US authorities to settle allegations that the group bribed Argentinian government officials to avoid mandatory customs and inspection procedures between 2005 and 2009.
A general manager at the group’s Argentinian subsidiary paid $568,000 to custom officials to evade the necessary paperwork and inspection and to clear unknown prohibited goods. The employee, who revealed the misconduct during an internal company review, also gave presents to officials such as perfume, dresses and handbags. Fake invoices were used to conceal the illegal activities.
The group reported the offence within two weeks of its discovery and has repaid the bribery costs, as well as interest to the US Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
“When these issues surfaced at our subsidiary in Argentina, we took immediate action to hire outside counsel and forensic specialists to conduct an internal investigation and reported the matter directly to both the US DoJ and the SEC,” said a group spokesman.
“We fully cooperated in the ensuing investigations and conducted a worldwide risk assessment. There was no evidence that the improper activity in Argentina was known or authorised by anyone outside of Argentina or that similar practices were occurring at other foreign operations.”
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