US fines AB InBev $6m for Indian bribery scheme

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said on Wednesday that Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) would pay $6 million fine for bribing Indian government officials to sell beer through third-party sales promoters at its Indian joint-venture unit.

The SEC alleges that the brewer’s Indian joint-venture unit, AB InBev India Private Ltd used third-party sales promoters to bribe Indian governmental officials to boost sales and production against US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The US further alleges that AB InBev recorded the transaction as legitimate expenses in its financial accounting and then tried to cover it up by entering into a non-disclosure agreement with a former employee of its Indian joint-venture unit from speaking to the SEC. The employee was subsequently fired by the brewer in 2012.

AB InBev dissolved the joint-venture partnership in 2015 and now operates in the Indian market independently through its wholly owned subsidiary Crown Beers India Private Ltd.

Since taking full ownership of the Indian operation, the brewer said it has offered employees Foreign Corrupt Practices training and improved its compliance practices.

The company will pay $6 million to the SEC, $2.7m of which will go to giving back what it allegedly gained from the bribery.

US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act forbids US corporations or foreign companies with US subsidiaries from bribing foreign officials in the course of legitimate business. Companies that run afoul of the law pay a hefty fine.

AB InBev made $9.22 billion profit in 2015.

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