(Reuters) The US Securities and Exchange Commission said on Friday that the UK WPP had agreed to pay more than $ 19 million to resolve allegations of breaches of bribery, books and records and internal accounting controls in Foreign Corrupt. Practices Act.
The world's largest advertising company did not recognize or deny the SEC's fees but agreed to pay the fine, the SEC said.
WPP implemented an aggressive business growth strategy that included acquiring a majority stake in many localized advertising agencies. in high-risk markets, the agency said.
In its order, it was found that WPP failed to ensure that these subsidiaries carried out their internal accounting controls and compliance policies, the SEC said, noting problems in India, China, Brazil and Peru.  It added that due to structural deficiencies, the WPP failed to “respond promptly or adequately to repeated warnings of corruption or control errors by certain subsidiaries. "
The issues concern a period between 2013 and 2018.
" A company can not allow a focus on profitability or market share to come at the expense of appropriate controls, "said Charles Cain, SEC FCPA head of the SEC.
"Furthermore, it is important for companies to identify the cause of problems when red flags appear to prevent a pattern of corrupt behavior from taking hold."
Friday's move comes when the country's leading securities watchdog tries to sue abuses in US markets due to a lack of necessary controls from companies.
WPP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.