The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has said that leading IT company Oracle has paid huge amount to the officials there to get orders (work) in many countries including India. These bribes were given in India between 2016 and 2019. The SEC has fined Oracle Rs 203 million for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
US regulator says slush funds were used to pay bribes. Apart from India, Oracle’s entities in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) also used slush funds. Slush funds are improperly used for illegal purposes.
As per the SEC order, Oracle India sales employees used an “excessive discount scheme” related to a transaction with a transportation company owned by the Ministry of Railways. Oracle’s sales staff cited competition from other companies and reportedly said the deal would go out of hand if the deal didn’t offer a 70 percent discount on software.
Oracle India’s deal was supposed to be approved by its official in France, but found that no documentary support was put in place to grant the request. However, the company which he gave the exemption is a Government of India owned company. The investigation revealed that Oracle India did not face any competition to bag the deal, as the Railways had mandated the use of Oracle software for that project.
Per the SEC order, one of Oracle India’s employees had created a spreadsheet indicating that the Indian Railways needed a buffer amount of $67,000 to potentially be paid.
The SOE officers were paid $62,000 by sales staff to the government unit, the order said. Company employees used slush funds to pay for discount schemes and fake marketing. These funds were used to provide benefits such as bribing foreign officials or paying these executives to attend technical conferences around the world, which were in violation of company policies.
This is the second time Oracle has faced such an allegation. The last time the matter came to the fore, Oracle India was stuck.
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Off-book slush funds are inherently risky, said Charles Cain, head of the SEC’s FCPA unit. Those funds could be used improperly. This is exactly what happened in Oracle’s Turkey, UAE and India subsidiaries. “The SEC report is contrary to our values and clear policies,” Oracle spokesman Michael Egbert said in a statement. We will take appropriate action in such cases.