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Avon Products settles bribery charges in New York for $135M as its China unit pleads guilty

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Avon cosmetics will pay $135 million to settle criminal and civil charges after its China unit pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by bribing officials there.

Avon Products Inc. is the world’s largest direct seller of cosmetics. Its Avon China unit entered the plea Wednesday in federal court in New York City. It admitted it disguised gifts its employees gave Chinese government officials from at least 2004 through late 2008. It said it concealed and disguised cash, non-business meals, travel and entertainment it provided to obtain business benefits.

As part of Avon’s deal with the government, federal prosecutors have entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the parent company.

Prosecutors say Avon has co-operated with investigators.

Avon Products CEO Sheri McCoy says she’s pleased with the agreements.