By Chris Wack

 

The Securities and Exchange Commission said WPP Plc has agreed to pay more than $19 million to resolve charges that it violated the anti-bribery, books and records, and internal accounting controls provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

According to the SEC's order, WPP implemented an aggressive business growth strategy that included acquiring majority interests in many localized advertising agencies in high-risk markets.

The SEC said WPP failed to ensure that these subsidiaries implemented WPP's internal accounting controls and compliance policies, instead allowing the founders and executive staff of the acquired entities to exercise wide autonomy and outsized influence. The order also found that, because of structural deficiencies, WPP failed to promptly or adequately respond to repeated warning signs of corruption or control failures at certain subsidiaries.

Without admitting or denying the SEC's findings, WPP agreed to cease and desist from committing violations of the anti-bribery, books and records, and internal accounting controls provisions of the FCPA and to pay $10.1 million in disgorgement, $1.1 million in prejudgment interest and an $8 million penalty.

 

Write to Chris Wack at chris.wack@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 24, 2021 09:45 ET (13:45 GMT)

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