(CN) – Tyson Foods will pay $4 million for bribing inspectors at its Mexican subsidiary, federal prosecutors said. Tyson de Mexico bribed two Mexican-state veterinarians with more than $100,000 from 2004 to 2006, according to the settled complaint.
The vets are required to be onsite at meat plants to ensure that the chicken being exported conforms to health and safety laws.
Tyson concealed the bribed by listing the veterinarians’ spouses on its payroll, though they did not work there. Tyson paid the bribes to prevent the vets from interrupting its operations.
“Tyson Foods used false books and sham jobs to hide bribe payments made to publicly employed meat processing plant inspectors in Mexico,” Assistant Attorney General Breuer said in a statement.
According to the complaint in District of Columbia Federal Court: “As a result of the payments, Tyson Foods realized net profits of more than $880,000 from export sales from its Tyson de Mexico facilities in fiscal years 2004, 2005 and 2006.”
Breuer said the penalty was based in part on Tyson’s “cooperation with the government’s investigation and its commitment to implementing enhanced controls.”
Tyson also must “implement rigorous controls;” if it does, the Justice Department will dismiss the criminal information in 2 years.
Tyson with charged with conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and with violating it.
The SEC also sued Tyson, also in District of Columbia Federal Court.
Tyson did not confirm or deny the charges.
It will be permanently enjoined from violating the anti-bribery, books and records, and internal controls provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.