Argentina tells SEC it wants proof in bribery case

| Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Argentina wants the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to name names and provide proof that Ralph Lauren Corp. bribed customs officials for years to allow its products into the South American country. Tax chief Ricardo Echegary came out swinging Tuesday when the government announced that the designer label had cooperated with authorities and paid a fine of nearly $1.6 million after admitting that its now-closed Argentine subsidiary violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Echegaray blamed private customs brokers and former Ralph Lauren executives for any violations, and suspended their tax ID numbers, which are necessary to do business in Argentina.

But he also demanded that the SEC identify which Argentine officials allegedly took the bribes, which the SEC said totaled nearly $600,000 over four years until they were discovered in 2010. And his agency put out a statement that called it a lie designed to cover up how Ralph Lauren emptied the subsidiary before abandoning Argentina.

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