SEC Charges Clear Channel Outdoor with FCPA Violations Relating to China Subsidiary

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings Inc. agreed to pay more than $26 million to resolve charges that it bribed Chinese government officials to obtain outdoor advertising contracts in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

The SEC’s order finds that Clear Channel, a U.S. based company in the out-of-home advertising industry, violated the FCPA in connection with the actions of its agent, Clear Media Limited, which, at the relevant time, was a Clear Channel majority-owned subsidiary in China. Specifically, the order finds that, from at least 2012 through 2017, Clear Media bribed Chinese government officials to obtain contracts required to sell advertising services to public and private sector clients for display on public bus shelters and other outdoor displays. In addition, the order finds that Clear Media used sham intermediaries and false invoices to generate cash for off-book “customer development” consultants engaged to win advertising business from government and private customers. According to the order, Clear Media’s improper payments were falsely characterized as legitimate entertainment, cleaning and maintenance, and “customer development” expenses in Clear Channel’s consolidated books and records. The order further finds that, from at least 2012 through 2019, Clear Channel failed to ensure that sufficient internal accounting controls were in place at Clear Media.

Source: SEC.gov | SEC Charges Clear Channel Outdoor with FCPA Violations Relating to China Subsidiary