WASHINGTON - Smith & Wesson, one of United States' largest gun manufacturers, will pay federal regulators more than $2 million to settle charges that it illegally bribed officials in Pakistan and other countries to supply their military and law enforcement agencies with firearms.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said Monday that Smith & Wesson violated anti-bribery laws when it tried to expand through countries such as Pakistan, Indonesia, Turkey, Nepal and Bangladesh.
Smith & Wesson profited more than $100,000 from its contract with Pakistan, but many of the other attempted bridges fell through, according to the SEC.
“This is a wake-up call for small and medium-size businesses that want to enter into high-risk markets and expand their international sales,” Kara Brockmeyer, chief of the foreign bribery task force within the SEC's enforcement division, said. “When a company makes the strategic decision to sell its products overseas, it must ensure that the right internal controls are in place and operating.” Smith & Wesson will pay the fines without admitting or denying any wrong doing. The company's president, James Debney, said he was glad to put the matter behind him.
"We are pleased to have concluded this matter with the SEC and believe that the settlement we have agreed upon is in the best interests of Smith & Wesson and its shareholders," Debney said. "Today's announcement brings to conclusion a legacy issue for our company that commenced more than four years ago, and we are pleased to now finally put this matter behind us."
According to the SEC's allegations, Smith & Wesson employees made improper payments to foreign officials who in turn tried to help them win contracts to supply their military and law enforcement agencies with guns, a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
The graft occurred between 2007 and 2010, the SEC alleged.
"During that period, Smith & Wesson’s international sales staff engaged in a pervasive effort to attract new business by offering, authorizing, or making illegal payments or providing gifts meant for government officials in Pakistan, Indonesia, and other foreign countries," the SEC noted.
According to the SEC, Smith & Wesson paid more than $11,000 in bribes — including 548 pistols — to win a contract with Pakistani police and wasted money on unsuccessful bribes to Indonesia, Turkey, Nepal, and Bangladesh.