SEC Charges California Telecom Company With Bribery and Other FCPA Violations
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C., Dec. 31, 2009 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Alameda, Calif.-based telecommunications company UTStarcom, Inc. with violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) for authorizing millions of dollars in unlawful payments to foreign government officials in Asia.
UTStarcom agreed to settle the SEC's charges and pay a $1.5 million penalty among other remedies. In a related criminal case, the U.S. Department of Justice announced today that UTStarcom agreed to pay an additional $1.5 million fine.
"UTStarcom spent millions of dollars on illegal bribes to win and keep customers in Asia," said Marc J. Fagel, Director of the SEC's San Francisco Regional Office. "It is important for corporate America to recognize that resorting to these methods of boosting profits contributes to a culture of corruption that cannot be condoned under U.S. law."
The SEC's complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that UTStarcom's wholly-owned subsidiary in China paid nearly $7 million between 2002 and 2007 for hundreds of overseas trips by employees of Chinese government-controlled telecommunications companies that were customers of UTStarcom, purportedly to provide customer training. In reality, the trips were entirely or primarily for sightseeing.
The SEC further alleges that UTStarcom provided lavish gifts and all-expenses paid executive training programs in the U.S. for existing and potential foreign government customers in China and Thailand. UTStarcom also purported to hire individuals affiliated with foreign government customers to work in the U.S. and provided them with work visas, when in reality the individuals did no work for UTStarcom. According to the SEC's complaint, UTStarcom also made improper payments to sham consultants in China and Mongolia while knowing that they would pay bribes to foreign government officials.
The SEC's complaint charges UTStarcom with violations of the anti-bribery, books and records, and internal controls provisions of the FCPA. UTStarcom agreed, without admitting or denying the charges, to the entry of a permanent injunction against FCPA violations and to provide the SEC with annual FCPA compliance reports and certifications for four years, in addition to paying the $1.5 million penalty.
The SEC acknowledges the assistance of the Department of Justice during the investigation.
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For more information about this enforcement action, contact:
Director, SEC San Francisco Regional Office
Associate Director, SEC San Francisco Regional Office