Ralph Lauren bribery case settled for $1.6 million

April 23, 2013 at 10:08 AM
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Ralph Lauren Corp. has agreed to pay $1.6 million as part of a non-prosecution agreement with the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission after finding that its Argentina subsidiary repeatedly bribed customs officials, CNN Money reported Monday.

The clothing brand will have to pay $882,000 for a non-prosecution agreement with the Justice Department and $735,000 in illicit profits and interest to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

According to the Justice Department, Ralph Lauren's Argentina branch bribed customs officials from 2004 to 2009 "to improperly obtain paperwork necessary for goods to clear customs; permit clearance of items without the necessary paperwork and/or the clearance of prohibited items; and on occasion, to avoid inspection entirely."

The Argentinian branch allegedly created fake invoices for roughly $580,000 to hide their unlawful conduct.

Ralph Lauren Corp. officials claimed they were unaware of the situation and said the briefs were "wholly inconsistent with the culture of compliance and integrity that we have worked diligently to establish." The company agreed to provide their full cooperation in helping federal authorities get to the bottom of this issue.

"There was no evidence that the improper activity in Argentina was known or authorized by anyone outside of Argentina or that similar practices were occurring at other foreign operations," Ralph Lauren Corp. said in a statement.

The SEC and the Justice Department applauded the store's handling of their wrongdoing.

"The [non-prosecution agreement] in this matter makes clear that we will confer substantial and tangible benefits on companies that respond appropriately to violations and cooperate fully with the SEC," George Canellos, director of the SEC, said in a statement.

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