Connecticut conglomerate to pay $14M in bribery probe

September 12, 2018 GMT

United Technologies will pay $13.9 million after a Securities & Exchange Commission probe into what the SEC called illicit payments to win business overseas for its Otis Elevator and Pratt & Whitney aircraft engine subsidiaries.

UTC and Otis are based in Farmington, with Pratt & Whitney having its headquarters plant in East Hartford. The conglomerate is one of the two largest corporate employers in Connecticut alongside General Dynamics and its Electric Boat subsidiary in Groton.

UTC had previously disclosed an investigation into the actions of what it described as an outside sales representative, with the company not admitting or denying wrongdoing as part of its settlement agreement with the SEC. The U.S. Department of Justice had conducted its own investigation without taking any action.

The SEC stated UTC violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act on multiple fronts, including Otis employees paying off Azerbaijani officials to win an elevator contract and as part of a kickback scheme to sell elevators in China.

The SEC also determined that UTC, through a joint venture, made payments to a sales agent in a bid to get information to help it win engine sales to a state-owned airline in China, while funding trips and gifts to officials in multiple countries.

“U.S. companies with global operations must implement policies and procedures that prevent bribery and motivate employees to perform ethically,” stated Tracy Price, deputy chief of the SEC’s unit that investigates overseas bribery. “Issuers with weak internal accounting controls open the door to corruption and other financial misconduct.”

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman