BUENOS AIRES — Argentina wants the US Securities and Exchange Commission to name names and provide proof that Ralph Lauren Corp. bribed customs officials for years to allow its products into the South American country.
Tax chief Ricardo Echegaray came out swinging Tuesday after the US government announced that the designer label had cooperated with authorities and paid a fine of nearly $1.6 million after admitting that its now-closed Argentine subsidiary violated the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Echegaray blamed private customs brokers and former Ralph Lauren executives for any violations and suspended their tax ID numbers, which are necessary to do business legally in Argentina.
But he also demanded that the SEC identify which Argentine officials allegedly took the bribes, which the SEC said totaled nearly $600,000 over four years until they were discovered in 2010. And his agency put out a statement that called it a lie designed to cover up how Ralph Lauren emptied the subsidiary before abandoning Argentina.
Echegaray’s AFIP tax agency also launched a criminal investigation on Monday after the SEC announced the settlement in New York, and he asked US Ambassador Vilma Martinez to intervene so that any evidence can be shared with investigator Jorge Brugo, who was assigned the Argentine case.
The Embassy on Tuesday referred all questions to the SEC and the Justice Department, which had no immediate comment on Echegaray’s requests and allegations.