The U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission said today that it agreed to settle a case against Bruker Corp. (NSDQ:BRKR) for $2.4 million, after an SEC probe found that the company failed to detect and prevent some $230,000 in payoffs to Chinese officials.
The securities watchdog charged Billerica, Mass.-based Bruker with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act "by providing non-business related travel and improper payments to various Chinese government officials in an effort to win business," according to a press release.
"An SEC investigation found that Bruker Corp. lacked sufficient internal controls to prevent and detect approximately $230,000 in improper payments out of its China-based offices that falsely recorded them in books and records as legitimate business and marketing expenses. The payments enabled Bruker to realize approximately $1.7 million in profits from sales contracts with state-owned entities in China whose officials received the improper payments," according to the release.
Bruker reported the misconduct and provided "extensive cooperation" during the SEC probe and agreed to pay about $2.4 million to settle the beef without any admission of wrongdoing, the SEC said. The settlement includes more than $1.7 million in disgorgement, about $310,000 in pre-judgment interest, and a $375,000 penalty, according to the agency.
"Bruker’s lax internal controls allowed employees in its China offices to enter into sham ‘collaboration agreements’ to direct money to foreign officials and send officials on sightseeing trips around the world," said Kara Brockmeyer, chief of the SEC enforcement division’s FCPA unit, in prepared remarks. "The company has since taken significant remedial steps to revise its compliance program and enhance internal controls over travel and contract approvals."