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Mondelez to pay $13 million penalty to US govt for India-related case

Global confectionery and food major Mondelez International will pay $13 million penalty to the US government for violating anti-corruption law by its subsidiary, erstwhile Cadbury India, in getting regulatory approvals for expansion of a unit in Himachal Pradesh. The matter relates to violation of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in India by Cadbury India, which had in 2009, took help of an agent to obtain “outside assistance” in securing various licenses and approvals to increase production capacity of one of its unit at Baddi, Himachal Pradesh.

Passing a “cease and desist from committing or causing any violations and any future violations” order against Mondelez last week, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said, Mondelez shall “pay a civil penalty in the amount of $13 million (Rs 88.5 crore) to the Securities and Exchange Commission for transfer to the general fund of the United States Treasury”.

Commenting on the development, a company spokesperson said: “Mondelez International Inc and Cadbury Limited are pleased to have reached an agreement with the SEC to settle charges related to internal controls and books-and-records provisions of the FCPA, without admitting or denying the charges.” The spokesperson further said: “As part of the settlement, Mondelez International Inc has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $13 million to resolve the investigation.”

Without naming the agent, the US SEC order says that Cadbury India paid him a total of $90,666 (Rs 61.70 lakh) for “providing consultation, arrange statutory/government prescribed formats of applications to be filed for various statutory clearances, documentation, preparation of files and the submission of the same with government authorities,” for specific licenses. Cadbury had transfered the sum into the agent’s bank account, who was a local business person and tile and marble vendor, withholding tax upon receipt of the invoices, it added. According to the US SEC order, Cadbury India performed no further due diligence on its agent. Other than the invoices from its agent, which contained a description of the specific licenses or approvals obtained as support for that invoice, Cadbury India did not receive documentary support and did not have any written contract with him.