Tyson Foods Paid Penalty for Bribery, but No Executives Charged (As Usual)

Monday, June 27, 2011
Tyson Foods, one of the world’s largest suppliers of chicken, pork and beef products, recently paid a multi-million dollar fine to the U.S. government for bribing foreign nationals. But no company officials were singled out for blame or prosecution.
 
The bribery took place in Mexico, where the wives of two veterinarians were paid about $2,700 a month for years. Keeping the veterinarians in line was the point of the bribes, so that Tyson’s processing plant didn’t get into trouble for violating health standards.
 
When low-level officials expressed concern to Tyson executives about the payments, the internal discussion turned to halting the bribes to the wives—and shifting them directly to the veterinarians.
 
Earlier this year, the Securities and Exchange Commission ended its investigation of Tyson, which was charged with conspiracy and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. But the matter never reached a courtroom, and Tyson agreed to pay a $4 million criminal penalty and an additional $1.2 million related to accusations of illegal accounting practices and other violations.
 
According to James B. Stewart, writing in The New York Times, the Tyson executives who went unnamed in the letter of agreement between Tyson and the Department of Justice were actually:
 
·       Greg Huett, former vice-president of Tyson International and now director of Yuhe International, a Chinese broiler chicken producer;
·       Paul Fox, former vice president of Tyson’s processed meats operation and now managing director of Brazil’s Marfrig Group, the world’s largest producer of meat and poultry;
·       Greg Lee, Tyson’s chief administrative officer at the time of the bribes, now retired, but still receiving $360,000 a year for consulting, as well as “personal use of the company-owned aircraft for up to 100 hours per year.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
 
Bribery, but Nobody Was Charged (by James B. Stewart, New York Times)
Tyson Settles U.S. Charges of Bribery (by William Neuman, New York Times)

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