Tyson says it voluntarily reported that improper payments of more than $100,000 were made by Tyson de Mexico to two Mexican government veterinarians who certified chicken products for export in 2007. The government found the payments violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
As a result, Tyson is signing a deferred prosecution agreement and will pay $4 million to the Department of Justice and another $1.2 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Tyson said it has strengthened its compliance program with anti-bribery laws and will report its efforts to the government for two years. If the company remains in compliance with the conditions of the agreement for two years, the Justice Department will dismiss the charges.
Tyson neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing in the settlement with the SEC but did agree to refrain from future violations of the anti-bribery law. Many US and foreign companies have been charged with violating the law in recent years.
Tyson's Mexican subsidiary participated in the inspection program in order to export chicken products to Japan and other countries, the government said.
It added Tyson de Mexico made the payments between 2004 and 2006 to the two veterinarians, who inspected two chicken processing plants in Gomez Palacio, Mexico. Tyson made the payments to keep the veterinarians from disrupting the plants' operations, according to court documents filed by the government.
Payments went directly to the veterinarians and indirectly through their wives, who were listed on Tyson de Mexico's payroll though they performed no services for the company, the government said. In 2004 when payments to the wives stopped in 2004, Tyson employees agreed to increase the amount paid to the inspectors to match the amount that had been paid to their wives.