Qualcomm Agrees To Pay $7.5m China Bribery Fine

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Chipmaker reportedly hired relatives of Chinese officials and splashed out on gifts for telecoms executives

Qualcomm has been hit by a $7.5m fine by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) following allegations of bribery in its practices in China.

The US chipmaker, which supplies processors and modems to many of the world’s leading smartphones and tablets, had been accused of hiring younger relatives of Chinese government officials in order to get preferential treatment.

The SEC investigation found that Qualcomm also provided gifts, travel and entertainment to try and influence officials at some of China’s top telecoms companies, including one instance where a Qualcomm executive personally provided an official’s son with a $70,000 loan in order to buy a home.

Above and beyond

Qualcomm Stand MWC 2016Michele Wein Layne, director of the SEC’s Los Angeles Regional Office, said that Qualcomm went to “extraordinary lengths” to gain a business advantage for more than a decade, actions which ultimately violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

Qualcomm, which says it does not admit or deny the SEC’s findings, will now report regularly over the next years to the SEC in the future regarding its adherence to the FCPA.

“Qualcomm is pleased to have put this matter behind us.  We remain committed to ethical conduct and compliance with all laws and regulations, and will continue to be vigilant about FCPA compliance,” said Don Rosenberg, Qualcomm’s executive vice president and general counsel.

The ruling is one of several cases currently involving Qualcomm, as back in July 2015, the company was hit with two EU charges amid accusations that it tried to price rivals out of the mobile device industry and abused its position as a leader in the production of semiconductors.

It was also previously engaged in a similar investigation by Chinese authorities following claims that the company reportedly charged higher prices to Chinese companies than in other countries.

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