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SEC fines firm millions in 2014 World Cup ticket case

Telefonica Brasil has been fined $4.1m (£3.2m/€3.6m) to settle charges made against it for its handling of ticket purchases and a hospitality programme it ran during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said the telecommunications group dished out tickets for the 2014 World Cup and 2013 Confederations Cup to Brazilian officials who were involved with, or in a position to influence, legislation, regulatory approvals and business dealings involving the company.

Telefonica Brasil has reportedly been listing payments for tickets inaccurately in its books and also failed to impose corporate anti-bribery and anti-corruption policies, according to the SEC.

As part of the agreement, Telefonica Brasil has not admitted or denied the regulator’s findings.

The São Paulo-based company said, according to Market Watch: “Telefonica Brasil has a strong code of ethics, and the company has continued to strengthen its compliance and anti-corruption program to help ensure its continued future compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.”

The SEC reports that the firm bought 1,860 tickets for the 2014 World Cup, spending upwards of $5.1m. An executive expense committee apparently approved the purchase and the company recorded the purchase in three installments, twice as “publicity institutional events” and once as “advertising and publicity,” the SEC said.

Around 194 World Cup tickets were handed out to 93 government officials and paid for related hospitality, with a total value of about $620,000, the SEC said.

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