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India contagion spreads to beer maker InBev

Anheuser-Busch InBev said this week the SEC is investigating its India joint venture for possible FCPA violations.

The Belgium-based beer company said in an SEC filing it is ‘investigating the conduct in question and cooperating with the SEC.’

The India JV is operated by InBev subsidiary Crown Beers India. The local partner is RKJ Group.

The disclosure Monday in the company’s latest annual report said, ‘We have been informed by the SEC that it is conducting an investigation into our affiliates in India, including our non-consolidated Indian joint venture, InBev Indian Int’l Private Ltd., and whether certain relationships of agents and employees were compliant with the FCPA.’

Liquor maker Beam Inc said last year it launched an investigation into allegations of FCPA violations in India. A whistleblower complaint about Beam’s invoicing and distribution practices reportedly triggered the investigation.

London-based liquor giant Diageo plc paid the SEC more than $16 million in 2011 to resolve FCPA offenses that stretched over six years and involved bribes to foreign officials in India, Thailand, and South Korea.

Central European Distribution Corporation said last year it discovered possible FCPA violations, mainly tied to gift-giving. New Jersey-based CEDC is one of the world’s largest producers of vodka.

In November 2012, Wal-Mart’s India joint venture suspended its chief financial officer and others as part of a bribery investigation.

InBev announced a long-term joint venture in India in 2007 with RKJ Group. Three years ago, the joint venture began selling Budweiser beer.

Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV trades on the NYSE under the symbol BUD.

Its global brands include Budweiser, Stella Artois, and Beck’s.

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