WPP to pay $19.2 million to resolve violations of anti-bribery laws

WPP settles SEC bribery charges for $19.2 million
Image source: WPP Plc

WPP Plc (LON: WPP) ADR (NYSE: WPP) agreed to pay $19.2 million to settle the charges of the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) alleging that it violated anti-bribery laws. 

On Friday, the SEC announced that WPP settled without admitting or denying the allegations against it. 

As part of the settlement, WPP consented to the entry of the SEC Order requiring it to stop violating the anti-bribery, books and records, and internal accounting controls provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). 

The SEC Order also required the world’s largest advertising group to pay $10.1 million in disgorgement, $1.1 million in prejudgment interest, and $8 million in penalties. 

WPP internal accounting controls were insufficient

In its investigation, the SEC found that WPP implemented an aggressive growth strategy that included acquiring controlling interests in many localized ad agencies in high-risk markets such as China, India, and South America. 

WPP agreed that the founder of the acquired ad agencies would continue as CEO and mandated them to follow its global policies and internal accounting control requirements.