Aon Corporation Agrees to Pay a $1.76 Million Criminal Penalty to Resolve Violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
|U.S. Department of Justice December 20, 2011|
WASHINGTON—Aon Corporation, a publicly traded corporation headquartered in Chicago and one of the largest insurance brokerage firms in the world, has entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice to pay a $1.76 million penalty to resolve violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division.
According to the non-prosecution agreement, Aon’s United Kingdom subsidiary, Aon Limited, administered certain training and education funds in connection with its reinsurance business with Instituto Nacional De Seguros (INS), Costa Rica’s state-owned insurance company. The supposed purpose of the funds was to provide education and training for INS officials. However, between 1997 and 2005, Aon Limited used a significant portion of the funds to reimburse INS officials for non-training related activity, including travel with spouses to overseas tourist destinations, or for uses that could not be determined from Aon’s books and records. Many of the invoices and other records for trips taken by INS officials did not provide any business purpose for the expenditures, or showed that the expenses were clearly not related to a legitimate business purpose.
As part of the agreement, Aon admitted that Aon Limited’s accounting books and records related to the funds, which were consolidated into Aon’s books and records, did not accurately and fairly reflect the purpose for which the expenses were incurred. Aon also admitted that it failed to devise and maintain an adequate system of internal accounting controls with respect to foreign sales activities sufficient to ensure compliance with the FCPA.
In addition to the monetary penalty, the agreement requires that Aon Corporation adhere to rigorous compliance, bookkeeping and internal controls standards and cooperate fully with the department.
The department entered into a non-prosecution agreement with Aon as a result of Aon’s extraordinary cooperation with the department and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); its timely and complete disclosure of improper payments in Costa Rica and other countries that it discovered during its thorough investigation of its global operations; its early and extensive remedial efforts; the prior financial penalty of £5.25 million that Aon Limited paid to the United Kingdom’s Financial Services Authority (FSA); and the FSA’s close and continuous supervisory oversight over Aon Limited. These factors also led to a substantially reduced monetary penalty.
Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.
In a related matter, Aon Corporation reached a settlement with the SEC and agreed to pay approximately $14.5 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest. The SEC settlement was filed today.
This case is being handled by Trial Attorney Andrew Gentin of the Fraud Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division with assistance from the FBI’s Washington Field Office’s dedicated FCPA squad. The department acknowledges and expresses its appreciation for the assistance provided by the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.