On March 24, Colorado-based Ball Corporation paid a $300,000 penalty to settle civil FCPA books and records and internal control charges brought by the the SEC.
Ball, a manufacturer of metal packaging for beverages, foods and household products, paid $106,000 in bribes through its Argentine subsidiary Formametal, S.A. in 2006 and 2007. At least ten bribes went to employees of the Argentine government to allow Ball to import prohibited used machinery and the exportation of raw materials at reduced tariffs, according to the SEC.
The SEC complaint said accounting personnel at Ball learned "soon after Ball acquired Formametal in March 2006 that Formametal employees may have made questionable payments and caused other compliance problems before the acquisition."
But Ball "failed to take sufficient action to ensure that such activities did not recur at Formametal after Ball took control of the Argentine company. Within months of Ball’s acquisition of Formametal, two Formametal executives—the then-Formametal President and then-Formametal Vice President of Institutional Affairs (hereinafter the “President” and “Vice President of Institutional Affairs,” respectively)—authorized improper payments to Argentine officials. The true nature of the payments was mischaracterized as ordinary business expenses on Formametal’s books and records and went undetected for over a year."
Ball Corporation trades on the NYSE under the symbol BLL.
Download the SEC's cease and desist order for In the Matter of Ball Corporation, Litigation Release No. 64123, Accounting and Auditing Release No. 3255, and Administrative Proceeding File No. 3-14305 (all dated March 24, 2011) here.