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Avon keeps no secrets from the feds

In its disclosure yesterday, Avon provided a glimpse into what it means to be cooperating with the DOJ and SEC.

Avon is deep into a huge global investigation about FCPA compliance that so far has cost the company more than $280 million. In China and other countries, it’s looking at everything — gift giving, payments to agents, travel, entertainment, joint ventures, acquisitions, you name it.

 It said yesterday that after it self disclosed its potential FCPA problems to the feds in 2008, it signed tolling agreements. That means it waived the FCPA’s five-year statute of limitations. So the DOJ and SEC aren’t under any time pressure to resolve Avon’s case.

Attorney-client privilege? Long gone. Avon said it has ‘responded to inquiries, translated and produced documents, assisted with interviews, and provided information on our internal investigation and compliance reviews, personnel actions taken and steps taken to enhance our ethics and compliance program.’

That’s a big list. It means the feds are shadowing Avon as the company digs into its compliance record by uncovering documents, interviewing employees and others, and firing or disciplining anyone who may be culpable.

The purpose of Avon’s cooperation? To reach an FCPA settlement soon and remove the dark cloud hanging over the company.

That may not be easy.

Avon said in yesterday’s disclosure (three times) that it can’t predict when its enforcement action might be resolved or how much a settlement could cost.


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