Beam Suntory, other beverage companies find that alcohol and bribes are not a good mix – Forbes

A warm fall night might be a delightful time to relax with a nice cocktail, but beyond booze and ice cubes, your drink might have the flavor of international corruption swirling under the little umbrella in your glass.

Beam Suntory and other beverage companies have run afoul of the US anti-bribery law in their efforts to boost sales in Asia. Photo: Yuriko Nakao/Bloomberg.

A number of international beverage companies have run afoul of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), paying millions to settle bribery charges.

The most recent case was against Beam Suntory Inc., the Chicago-based spirits conglomerate. Beam Suntory agreed in July to pay $8 million to settle charges of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations stemming from improper payments by Beam Suntory’s Indian subsidiary, Beam India, to government officials in that country.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewing company and owner of the American subsidiary Anheuser-Busch, paid $6 million in 2016 to settle FCPA violation charges. Anheuser-Busch InBev’s India-based joint venture subsidiaries allegedly paid bribes to Indian government officials to boost sales and production. The company also allegedly violated US Securities and Exchange Commission rules by arranging to destroy incriminating documents and by trying to block a whistleblower from coming forward with information.

In 2011, London-based Diageo plc paid over $16 million in penalties and disgorgements to resolve FCPA violations stemming from bribes paid to foreign officials in India, Thailand and South Korea. The US government alleged that Diageo paid some $2.7 million in bribes over the course of six years to secure sales authorizations, circumvent tax and customs disputes and to obtain new liquor business, netting over $11 million in profit in the process.

The FCPA prohibits companies under US jurisdiction from paying inducements to foreign officials to

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