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US tech firm to pay more than $23 million for bribing officials in Turkey, UAE, India

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Texas-based technology firm Oracle Corp will pay more than $23 million to resolve charges that its subsidiaries in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and India used slush funds to bribe foreign officials to win business, the US. Securities and Exchange Commission said on Tuesday, according to Reuters and Voice of America.

The case covered alleged wrongdoing from 2014 to 2019 and is the second time the SEC has charged Oracle with violating the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), an anti-bribery law.

According to the regulator, Oracle’s Turkey and UAE units also used slush funds to pay for foreign officials to attend technology conferences in violation of Oracle policies.

Employees of the Turkey subsidiary also used the funds to pay for the officials’ spouses and children to accompany them, or to take side trips to California, the SEC said.

No information was provided about the identity of the Turkish officials who accepted bribes from Oracle, although the SEC cease-and-desist order mentions officials at Turkey’s Ministry of Interior and Social Security Institution (SGK) as having benefitted from slush-fund disbursements.

“The creation of off-book slush funds inherently gives rise to the risk those funds will be used improperly, which is exactly what happened here,” Charles Cain, chief of the SEC’s FCPA unit, said in a statement.

Oracle, based in Austin, Texas, agreed to pay a $15 million civil fine and about $7.9 million of disgorgement and interest. It did not admit or deny wrongdoing in agreeing to settle.

“The conduct outlined by the SEC is contrary to our core values and clear policies, and if we identify such behavior, we will take appropriate action,” Oracle spokesman Michael Egbert said.

In 2012 Oracle agreed to pay a $2 million fine to settle SEC charges concerning the creation of millions of dollars of unauthorized side funds by Oracle India from 2005 to 2007.

There are widespread corruption allegations involving President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, his family members and government officials.

Erdoğan is accused of having covered up two corruption investigations that became public in late 2013 in which his inner circle was implicated. Then-prime minister Erdoğan labelled the corruption investigations as a “coup” against his government. Police officers and prosecutors as well as the judges who were involved in the investigations or made decisions regarding the suspects were removed from their posts and subsequently arrested.

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