The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has reached a settlement with two UK-based reinsurance brokers involved in a corrupt scheme to bribe Ecuadorean Government officials.

The two companies, Tysers Insurance Brokers and H W Wood, were under the DOJ’s investigations pertaining to the violation of anti-bribery provisions under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

In response to the criminal information, which was filed in the Southern District of Florida, Tysers and H W Wood have signed a three-year DPA with the DOJ.

As part of this agreement, Tysers will pay a $36m criminal penalty and an administrative forfeiture of nearly $10.5m, while H W Wood will pay a $22.5m criminal penalty, $2.3m of which is forfeitable to the US.

DOJ Criminal Division Acting Assistant Attorney GFeneral Nicole Argentieri said: “Tysers and HW Wood have admitted to engaging in a scheme to bribe multiple Ecuadorian Government officials to earn tens of millions of dollars in illicit profits for themselves and their co-conspirators.”

As per the court documents cited by the DOJ, between 2013 and 2017, the two British companies paid a total of $2.8m in bribes to the then-chairman of two Ecuadorian insurance companies, Seguros Sucre and Seguros Rocafuerte.

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Three other Ecuadorian officials were also bribed by Tysers and H W Wood to secure and retain reinsurance business with state-owned insurance companies.

During the mentioned period, Tysers was doing business as Integro Insurance Brokers.

Payments were made through emails, meetings in Florida and other mediums, before being sent to accounts held in Florida and elsewhere.

Tysers paid $20.3m in commissions and H W Wood paid $7.9m in commissions and premium payments to an undisclosed intermediary company that paid the bribes.

IRS Criminal Investigation Chief Jim Lee said: “Not only have Tysers and H W Wood broken any trust held in them by their clients and the market, they have eroded the process of fair and open competition when they paid bribes to foreign officials in exchange for securing lucrative contracts, and kickback for themselves.”