WPP to pay $19 million to SEC to settle claims around overseas corruption case

New Ideas in MarketingEssential news for marketers, summarised by YouGov
September 27, 2021, 2:16 PM UTC

The US government’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said that WPP had breached the foreign corrupt practices act (FCPA).

WPP has agreed to pay $19 million to SEC to settle its claims about breaching FCPA. The Securities and Exchange Commission said the advertising company has failed to ensure that subsidiary firms acquired in high-risk markets implemented its internal accounting controls and compliance policies. SEC claimed the company has also allowed the founders and chief executives of the acquired businesses “to exercise wide autonomy and outsized influence”.

The SEC has further accused WPP of failing to promptly or adequately respond to warning signs of corruption or control failures at certain subsidiaries. The commission further highlighted examples of subsidiaries in countries including India, Brazil, Peru and China.

As part of the settlement, the advertising company has agreed to desist from committing violations of the anti-bribery, books and records, and internal accounting controls provisions of the FCPA without admitting or denying the commission’s findings. FCPA unit chief at SEC, Charles Cain, said, “A company cannot allow a focus on profitability or market share to come at the expense of appropriate controls.”

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