The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Chilean-based chemical and mining company Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile S.A. (SQM) agreed to pay more than $30 million to resolve parallel civil and criminal cases finding that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
According to the SEC’s order, SQM made nearly $15 million in improper payments to Chilean political figures and others connected to them. Most of the payments were made based on fake documentation submitted to SQM by individuals and entities posing as legitimate vendors. The payments occurred for at least a seven-year period.
“SQM permitted millions of dollars in payments to local politicians while failing for years to exercise proper oversight over a key discretionary account and internal controls,” said Stephanie Avakian, Acting Director of the SEC Enforcement Division.
SQM agreed to pay a $15 million penalty to settle the SEC’s charges and a $15.5 million penalty as part of a deferred prosecution agreement announced today by the U.S. Department of Justice. SQM agreed to retain an independent compliance monitor for two years and self-report to the SEC and Justice Department for one year after the monitor’s work is complete.
The SEC’s investigation, which is continuing, is being conducted by William B. McKean. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.