$20m bribery fine for US firm

4 January 2017

A Kentucky-based cable and wire manufacturer and distributor has been fined $20m for bribing government officials in several developing countries.

General Cable Corporation settled with the US government after it was found to have made improper payments to government officials in Angola, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia and Thailand to gain business.

The Justice Department said that between 2002 and 2013 General Cable subsidiaries paid approximately $13m to third-party agents and distributors, some of which was unlawful, which netted the company approximately $51m in profits.

“General Cable paid bribes to officials in multiple countries in a scheme that involved a high-level executive of the company and resulted in profits of more than $50m worldwide,” said assistant attorney general Leslie Caldwell.

However, he added that the company had also voluntarily disclosed its own misconduct to the government and fully cooperated with the investigation.

“This resolution demonstrates the very real upside to coming in and cooperating with federal prosecutors and investigators. It also reflects our ongoing commitment to transparency,” said Caldwell.

The company admitted “some parent-level and subsidiary-level employees, including executives” were aware that some of its foreign subsidiaries used third-party agents and distributors to bribe foreign officials in order to obtain and retain business.

In one case a foreign subsidiary of the company made direct corrupt payments to foreign officials.

The company failed to take action despite concerns that such payments could constitute bribery being expressed in 2011 by employees from one of its subsidiaries.

Payments were discussed openly in company email messages, and on one occasion a sales agent in Bangladesh discussed how money would be apportioned.

As well as paying a fine the company has agreed to cooperate in further investigations and prosecutions and to enhance its compliance programme. It has also fired 13 employees who participated in the misconduct and terminated its relationships with 47 third-party agents and distributors.

Assistant director Stephen Richardson of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division said the investigation was a result of the formation of International Corruption Squads in 2015 to address the national and international implications of foreign corruption.

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