Bio-Rad Labs pays $55 million to settle foreign bribes scam in Russia, Vietnam and Thailand

Bio-Rad Labs, a diagnostic and life sciences company, has agreed to pay $55 million to settle U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charges that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act when its subsidiaries made improper payments to foreign officials in Russia, Vietnam and Thailand to win business.

The SEC said Bio-Rad lacked sufficient internal controls to detect about $7.5 million in bribes that were paid during a five-year period and improperly recorded in books and records as legitimate expenses such as commissions, advertising and training fees. The payments earned the company $35 million in illicit profits.

The SEC also stated that the company made excessive payments disguised as commissions to foreign agents with phony Moscow addresses and off-shore bank accounts. The agents were retained primarily to influence Russia’s Ministry of Health and help the company win bids for government contracts, the SEC said.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers