Nation & World

Jim Beam to pay $8 million over alleged violations

Company accused by SEC of bribing officials in India

Bloomberg News

Bottles of Jim Beam Bourbon are shown on the shelf of a liquor store.
Bloomberg News Bottles of Jim Beam Bourbon are shown on the shelf of a liquor store.

A push by the distributor of Jim Beam to get more Indians to drink its booze has left the company with a hangover in the United States.

Beam Suntory has agreed to pick up a roughly $8 million tab for allegedly bribing government officials for years to make inroads in India’s highly regulated liquor business, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said in a statement earlier this week.

Between 2006 and 2012, the company made illicit payments through third-party sales promoters and distributors to get licenses and secure prominent placements on store shelves, the SEC said.

In one alleged violation, senior managers at an international Beam unit agreed to pay an Indian official about $18,000 — the cost of 1,000 standard whiskey bottles in the United States — to grease the approval process for a new product back in 2011.

The one million Rupee payment was equivalent to about a year’s worth of salary for the Indian bureaucrat, the SEC said.

Beam, which is best known for its Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, didn’t admit or deny the allegations.

The Illinois company traded on the New York Stock Exchange before being acquired by Japan’s Suntory Holdings Ltd. in 2014.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

In a statement, Beam said that it’s “committed to doing business the right way everywhere we operate” and that it first discovered the problems and alerted U.S. authorities.

The company has taken corrective action and is cooperating with the Justice Department, which is continuing a probe into the matter, according to the statement.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

CONTINUE READING

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.