According to the SEC’s order, WPP implemented an aggressive business growth strategy that included acquiring majority interests in many localized advertising agencies in high-risk markets. The order finds that WPP failed to ensure that these subsidiaries implemented WPP’s internal accounting controls and compliance policies, instead allowing the founders and CEOs of the acquired entities to exercise wide autonomy and outsized influence. The order also finds that, because of structural deficiencies, WPP failed to promptly or adequately respond to repeated warning signs of corruption or control failures at certain subsidiaries. For example, according to the order, a subsidiary in India continued to bribe Indian government officials in return for advertising contracts even though WPP had received seven anonymous complaints touching on the conduct. The order also documents other schemes and internal accounting control deficiencies related to WPP’s subsidiaries in China, Brazil, and Peru.
‘Enforcement 40’ for 2020
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