The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has imposed a fine of $23 million on tech giant Oracle for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The penalty has been imposed for slushing funds to bribe officials in Turkey, UAE and India.
“The Securities and Exchange Commission announced settled charges requiring Oracle Corporation to pay more than $23 million to resolve charges that it violated provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) when subsidiaries in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and India created and used slush funds to bribe foreign officials in return for business between 2016 and 2019,” the SEC said in a statement on Tuesday.
According to the SEC’s order, Oracle subsidiaries in Turkey and UAE also used the slush funds to pay for foreign officials to attend technology conferences in violation of Oracle policies and procedures. The order found that in some instances, employees of the Turkey subsidiary used these funds for the officials’ families to accompany them on international conferences or take side trips to California.
“The SEC previously sanctioned Oracle in connection with the creation of slush funds. In 2012, Oracle resolved charges relating to the creation of millions of dollars of side funds by Oracle India, which created the risk that those funds could be used for illicit purposes,” the statement said.
Charles Cain, chief of SEC’s FCPA unit, said the creation of off-book slush funds inherently gives rise to the risk those funds will be used improperly, which is exactly what happened here at Oracle’s Turkey, UAE, and India subsidiaries. “This matter highlights the critical need for effective internal accounting controls throughout the entirety of a company’s operations.”
Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, Oracle agreed to cease and desist from committing violations of the anti-bribery, books and records, and internal accounting controls provisions of the FCPA and to pay about $8 million in disgorgement and a $15 million penalty.
The statement added, “The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Samantha Martin and Laura Bennett and supervised by David Reece. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Capital Markets Board of Turkey, Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority, and the Securities and Exchange Board of India.”
On Oracle’s India operations, the SEC said its employees used “an excessive discount scheme” in connection with a transaction with a transportation company owned by the railway ministry.
“In 2019, Oracle India sales employees also used an excessive discount scheme in connection with a transaction with a transportation company, a majority of which was owned by the Indian Ministry of Railways,” the order said.
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