NEW YORK – The Herbalife firm acknowledged bribing Chinese government officials for a decade in their attempt to expand their business abroad and falsifying accounting records to cover up payments, US prosecutors reported Friday announce corruption charges against the Los Angeles-based health and nutrition company.
Herbalife agreed to pay penalties totaling more than $ 123 million to settle the charges, federal prosecutors added.
The company agreed the charges as part of a deferred trial agreement reached with the United States Department of Justice and the federal prosecutor's office in Manhattan.
The charges were brought under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits bribing officials governments or executives of foreign companies to secure or maintain business.
Herbalife did not respond to a message at the moment and n seeking comment.
Company employees began bribing Chinese officials in 2007 in their attempt to get the necessary licenses from national and local authorities to sell health and nutrition products.
They also bribed an official news outlet "with the goal of eliminating negative reports about Herbalife China," prosecutors claimed.
Herbalife falsely recorded bribery payments as "travel and entertainment expenses," prosecutors reported.
Since Herbalife has long been the subject of law enforcement attention for its business practices, which have been compared to pyramid fraud schemes.