Infrared company settles bribery charges with SEC

The leading manufacturer of thermal imaging technology used in binoculars, cameras and military equipment has agreed to pay the Securities and Exchange Commission $9.5 million to settle charges it bribed government officials in the Middle East with travel and gifts.

According to the SEC, two employees in the Dubai office of the Oregon-based FLIR Systems Inc. tried to boost sales by giving expensive watches to government officials with the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Interior in 2009.

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The SEC says they also arranged for the company to pay for a 20-night excursion by Saudi officials that included stops in Casablanca, Paris, Dubai, Beirut, and New York City.

From 2008 to 2010, SEC said FLIR spent $40,000 on additional travel by Saudi government officials that included multiple New Year’s Eve trips to Dubai with airfare, hotel and expensive dinners and drinks.

The expenditures, which were falsely recorded on the company books as legitimate business expenses, influenced $7 million in profits from sales, according to the SEC. 

The company said it had few internal controls over gifts and travel coming from its foreign sales offices. SEC charged FLIR with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). 

On top of the $9.5 million fine, FLIR will report its FCPA compliance efforts to the agency for the next two years.