Oracle’s employees at its India unit used an excessive discount scheme linked to a transaction with a transportation company owned by the ministry of railways, US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has imposed a fine of more than $23 million on tech giant Oracle for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Oracle used slush funds to bribe officials in India, United Arab Emirates and Turkey in return for business between 2016 and 2019, according to the SEC.
“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 at Oracle’s Turkey, UAE, and India subsidiaries. This matter highlights the critical need for effective internal accounting controls throughout the entirety of a company’s operations,” said Charles Cain, the SEC’s FCPA Unit Chief.
Oracle has agreed to pay $8 million in disgorgement and the rest of $15 million is the penalty out of the total $23 million, according to SEC. Though 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 told news agency Reuters.
Oracle’s employees at its India unit used an excessive discount scheme linked to a transaction with a transportation company owned by the ministry of railways, according to SEC. The employees offered a heavy discount of 70% on software deals to keep competitors away, the market watchdog added.
The SEC discovered that there was no competition as the procurement website of the Indian railway ministry clearly mandated the use of Oracle products for the project. According to the SEC order, one of the employees involved in the transaction maintained a spreadsheet that indicated that a buffer of $67,000 was available to potentially make payments to Indian officials of the state-owned enterprise (SOE).
“A total of approximately $330,000 was funnelled to an entity with a reputation for paying SOE officials and another $62,000 was paid to an entity controlled by the sales employees responsible for the transaction,” said the order.
This is the second time Oracle has been charged by the SEC for bribing officials in India.
In 2012 Oracle’s India unit was found guilty of keeping unauthorized side funds at distributors from 2005 to 2007. Oracle had agreed to pay $2 million to settle SEC’s charges of violating FCPA provisions.