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Aon Ltd. Receives Fine of Nearly $8 Million for Lack of Sufficient Bribery Controls

Posted on 08 Jan 2009

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Britain’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) has fined a U.K. unit of Aon Corp a record $7.9 million for not having sufficient anti-bribery controls.  
Aon Ltd. made “various suspicious payments” totaling as much as $7 million to a number of overseas companies between 2005 and 2007, the FSA said in a statement. The fine is the largest levied by the London-based regulator for a financial crime, according to the FSA.  
Aon “recognizes that certain failings in its systems and controls have occurred in the past and that this has led to a number of potentially inappropriate payments being made to third parties” in “high-risk jurisdictions” outside the U.K., the company said in an e-mailed statement.  
The U.K. Serious Fraud Office and other authorities have long probed payments made by British companies to overseas contractors and individuals. The SFO in 2006 dropped an investigation into defense contracts between the Saudi Arabian government and BAE Systems Plc, Europe’s biggest defense contractor, on national security grounds.  
“The involvement of U.K. financial institutions in corrupt or potentially corrupt practices overseas undermines the integrity of the U.K. financial-services sector,” said Margaret Cole, the FSA’s enforcement director, in an e-mailed statement.  
The FSA said that Aon Ltd.’s current management had resolved past problems and its improvements were a model of “best practice” for other companies.  
Aon Ltd. cooperated with the regulator, the FSA said, and so qualified for a 30 percent discount in the fine.