Aon Settles Foreign Bribes Case with SEC for $16 Billion

Massive insurer Aon Corporation on Tuesday reached a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission over charges its subsidiaries bribed foreign government officials. The company agreed to pay $14.5 million to the SEC and $1.7 million to the Justice Department to settle allegations of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by paying out more than $3.5 million in bribes between 1983 and 2007.

According to the claim, Aon earned more than $11 million in profits as a result of the bribes, from contracts awarded by officials in Egypt, Myanmar, Costa Rica and other countries. Headquartered in Chicago, Aon is an insurance and reinsurer with 500 offices in 120 countries with a workforce of over 60,000. According to a statement issued by Aon on Tuesday, it has instituted “a comprehensive, global and robust anti-corruption program” since the SEC began its probe in 2007.

As in similar cases against against powerful corporations, Aon was allowed to settle the charges without admitting or denying wrongdoing. The SEC has come under criticism in recent months for the practice of letting firms settle charges without admitting fault. Judge Jed Rakoff last month rejected a similar settlement between the SEC and Citigroup last month over mortgage securities fraud, ordering Citigroup to stand trial in the matter. The SEC has reached similar deals with other big banks including JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo, allowing those companies to have charges dismissed in exchange for penalties.