Esporte Telefonica Brasil Pays $4.1 Million Fine in World Cup Ticket Case

Esporte Telefonica Brasil Pays $4.1 Million Fine in World Cup Ticket Case


Telefonica Brasil S.A.

agreed to pay a $4.1 million fine to settle charges related to how it accounted for ticket purchases and a hospitality program it hosted at major international soccer tournaments, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said.

The regulator said the Brazilian subsidiary of Spanish telecommunications giant

Telefónica S.A.

gave 2014 World Cup and 2013 Confederations Cup tickets to Brazilian officials who were involved with, or in a position to influence, legislation, regulatory approvals and business dealings involving the company.

The SEC said Telefonica Brasil didn’t accurately characterize payments for tickets in its books and failed to adequately enforce corporate antibribery and anticorruption policies. The regulator charged the company with violating the books-and-records and the internal accounting controls provisions of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Telefonica Brasil’s American depositary receipts are registered with the SEC and traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

As part of the agreement, announced Thursday by the SEC, Telefonica Brasil didn’t admit or deny the regulator’s findings.

“Telefonica Brasil has a strong code of ethics, and the company has continued to strengthen its compliance and anticorruption program to help ensure its continued future compliance with all applicable laws and regulations,” the São Paulo-based company said.

Telefonica Brasil in 2012 bought 1,860 tickets for the 2014 World Cup, according to the SEC. The $5.1 million purchase was approved by an executive expense committee and the company recorded the purchase in three installments—twice as “publicity institutional events” and once as “advertising and publicity,” the SEC said.

Paperwork seeking internal approval for the purchase didn’t mention that the tickets would be given to government officials, according to the SEC. But it was known internally within the company that some of the tickets would be given to government officials, the regulator said.

Telefonica Brasil gave 194 World Cup tickets to 93 government officials and paid for related hospitality, the SEC said. The officials receiving tickets included Brazilian congressmen and senators, mayors and personnel from foreign embassies who were customers of the company, including an ambassador, according to the SEC.

The total value of tickets and hospitality given to the government officials was about $620,000, the SEC said.

Telefonica Brasil had a similar program for the 2013 Confederations Cup, to which company gave tickets and paid for hospitality to about 34 government officials for a total value of more than $117,000, according to the SEC.

Telefonica Brasil cooperated with the investigation by sharing information from an internal investigation, the SEC said. The company also took steps to improve its FCPA compliance, including enhancing its internal accounting controls and adopting a new anticorruption policy and compliance structure, according to the agency.

Write to Mengqi Sun at [email protected]

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