December 26, 2018

California-based communications solutions provider resolves FCPA violations with the DOJ and SEC for $36 million

Polycom, Inc. settled FCPA violations with the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission for $36 million today.  According to a cease and desist order filed by the SEC, a Chinese subsidiary of Polycom, Inc., a US voice and video communications products and services provider, gave significant discounts to the company’s Chinese distributors and resellers, knowing that the discounts would be used to make payments to Chinese government officials and executives of state-owned entities in exchange for assistance in obtaining orders for Polycom’s products.  The scheme was allegedly orchestrated by Polycom’s Vice President for China.  The subsidiary purportedly recorded the discounts in a sales management system parallel to the single, centralized customer relations management database used by Polycom for all operations worldwide.  Senior managers also allegedly instructed employees not to use their Polycom email addressed when discussing sales opportunities with distributors.  According to the SEC, between 2006 and July 2014, the time during which the alleged improper payments went undetected, Polycom failed to devise and maintain sufficient internal accounting controls or an effective anti-corruption compliance program for its Chinese sales operations.  Among other things, the SEC criticized a lack of controls related to discount approval authority and detection of improper justifications for discounts.  The company agreed to pay the SEC $16.3 million, including $10.7 million in disgorgement, $1.8 million in prejudgment interest, and a $3.8 million fine, to settle books and records and internal accounting controls charges, without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings.  The DOJ also made public a letter of declination closing its investigation into Polycom, “despite the bribery committed by employees of the Company’s subsidiaries in China, and these subsidiaries’ knowingly and willful causing of false books and records.”  The DOJ cited a number of factors that contributed to its decision to decline, including Polycom’s prompt and voluntary self-disclosure; thorough investigation; full cooperation, including making current and former employees available for interview, translating foreign language documents, and disclosing unrelated misconduct; and remediation, including enhancements to its compliance program and internal accounting controls, termination and discipline of employees involved in the misconduct, and termination of certain third party relationships.  Polycom agreed to disgorge an additional  $20.3 million to the US Treasury Department and US Postal Inspection Service Consumer Fraud Fund in connection with the declination agreement.

SEC order | DOJ declination letter