Qualcomm faces China bribery allegations from U.S. regulator

Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:23pm EDT
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By Noel Randewich

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Leading mobile chipmaker Qualcomm said on Wednesday it could face a civil action from U.S. authorities over alleged bribery of officials associated with state-owned companies in China.

With smartphone sales tapering off in the United States, China is a major market for Qualcomm, but doing business there has included disagreements over royalties and an antitrust investigation.

In its fiscal second-quarter report, Qualcomm said it has received a notice from the Securities and Exchange Commission's Los Angeles office advising it of a preliminary determination to recommend an enforcement action against the company for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

Qualcomm said the civil action could seek remedies including "disgorgement of profits, the retention of an independent compliance monitor to review the company's FCPA policies and procedures, an injunction, civil monetary penalties and prejudgment interest."

Qualcomm said it first learned of and disclosed the SEC investigation in 2012.

In its own investigation, Qualcomm said it found instances in which "special hiring consideration, gifts or other benefits were provided to several individuals associated with Chinese state-owned companies or agencies."

The chipmaker believes the total value of the benefits was less than $250,000.

Qualcomm said it received a from the SEC's Los Angeles office on March 13 advising it of the preliminary determination. On April 4, the San Diego company submitted an explanation of why it believes it has not violated the FCPA.   Continued...

A Qualcomm sign is seen at one of Qualcomm's numerous buildings located on its San Diego Campus February 7, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Blake