By Aruna Viswanatha
WASHINGTON, April 22 Clothing retailer Ralph
Lauren Corp will pay more than $1.6 million to settle a
criminal and civil investigation of allegations that one of its
subsidiaries bribed government officials in Argentina.
U.S. authorities agreed not to prosecute the company after
allegations surfaced that it bribed Argentinian customs
officials in order to clear merchandise, some of it prohibited,
the U.S. Justice Department said.
The company received the lenient treatment because of its
"extensive" cooperation in the inquiry and new anti-bribery
training for its employees, a world-wide risk assessment it
conducted and other remedial measures.
The company will pay an $882,000 penalty to the DOJ and
disgorge more than $730,000 in illicit profits and interest to
the Securities and Exchange Commission, the two agencies said.
Ralph Lauren did not have an anti-corruption program or
provide training to employees at its subsidiary in Argentina in
the five-year period over which the bribes occurred, prosecutors
A lawyer for the company, Thomas Hanusik, said Ralph Lauren
investigated the allegations, reported them to authorities and
cooperated in the government probes.
The agreement with the SEC is the first non-prosecution
agreement the agency has entered in the foreign bribery context.
In recent years both agencies have stepped up efforts to
enforce the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a 1970s-era law that
bars bribes to officials of foreign governments.