Alcatel to pay $137M to settle bribery charges

Associated Press
FILE - In this June 18, 2010 file photo, Alcatel-Lucent CEO Ben Verwaayen talks at a media briefing in New Delhi, India. Alcatel-Lucent SA has agreed to pay more than $137 million to settle charges brought against it by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice. (AP Photo/Mustafa Quraishi, file)
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FILE - In this June 18, 2010 file photo, Alcatel-Lucent CEO Ben Verwaayen talks at a media briefing in …

Alcatel-Lucent SA has agreed to pay more than $137 million to settle charges brought against it by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice.

The SEC late Monday accused the Paris-based telecommunications company of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by paying bribes to foreign government officials to illicitly win business in Latin America and Asia.

Alcatel, a top supplier to U.S. and European phone companies, agreed to pay more than $45 million to settle the SEC's charges. It will pay an additional $92 million to settle criminal charges announced by the Justice Department.

A representative for Alcatel couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

The SEC's complaint said Alcatel's bribes went to government officials in Costa Rica, Honduras, Malaysia and Taiwan between December 2001 and June 2006.

The SEC complaint said all of the bribery payments were undocumented or improperly recorded as consulting fees by Alcatel subsidiaries and then consolidated into the company's financial statements. The complaint also says leaders of several Alcatel subsidiaries and geographical regions either knew or were severely reckless in not knowing about the misconduct.

"Alcatel and its subsidiaries failed to detect or investigate numerous red flags suggesting their employees were directing sham consultants to provide gifts and payments to foreign government officials to illegally win business," said Robert Khuzami, director of the SEC's division of enforcement, said in a statement.

The settlement is subject to court approval.

Last month Alcatel reported a profit for the third quarter after losses last year, helped by recovering demand for wireless and growth in Asia and eastern Europe.

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