WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced Anheuser-Busch InBev will pay $6 million after allegations it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and threatened a whistleblower who reported the misconduct.
According to the SEC, the company used third-party sales promoters that made improper payments to government officials in India in order to increase the sale and production of Anheuser-Busch products in that country. When an employee began the whistleblowing process, Anheuser-Busch InBev allegedly attempted to stop the employee from doing so by threatening a financial penalty.
“Anheuser-Busch InBev recorded improper payments by its sales promoters in India as legitimate expenses in its financial accounting, and then exacerbated the problem by including language in a separation agreement that chilled an employee from communicating with the SEC,” said Kara Brockmeyer, chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s FCPA unit.
The company will pay $2,712,955 in disgorgement plus interest of $292,381 and a penalty of $3,002,955. Additionally, Anheuser-Busch will cooperate with the SEC and report its FCPA compliance efforts for a two-year period.
“Threat of financial punishment for whistleblowing is unacceptable,” said Jane Norberg, acting chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower. “We will continue to take a hard look at these types of provisions and fact patterns.”