Diageo said to be nearing settlement in SEC investigation

Diageo said to be nearing settlement in SEC investigation

Diageo has declined to comment on a report that it is nearing a settlement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission over an investigation into bribery payments overseas.

The Johnnie Walker distiller is set to pay between US$10m and $20m to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in order to settle the case, the Financial Times newspaper reported yesterday (9 June).

Citing people familiar with the matter, it said that a settlement is close to being agreed. Diageo declined to comment on the matter when contacted by just-drinks.

The case relates to fraud allegations against Diageo employees in South Korea around four years ago. According to Diageo's 2010 annual report, the drinks giant reported to the US SEC that two of its former employees in South Korea had been convicted for "improper payments", while one former employee and two current ones were convicted of tax evasion.

Diageo has been conducting its own investigation into the matter in a number of countries, including Korea, Thailand and India. Meanwhile, the SEC has been investigating under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.