Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., faced with a civil injunction filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission in U.S. District Court, yesterday disclosed how it made more than $2 million worth of improper payments here and abroad.
In reaching a prior agreement with the SEC on a consent decree, the company said it would bar certain accounting and financial reporting practices that had been used.
Although many of the disclosures have been made in earlier reports from the company, the 8-K filing released by Goodyear yesterday described the violations in great detail anc cited new violations.
The company also released a statement saying the consent decree "does not constitute admission of wrong doing."
The firm said it agreed to the judgment "to avoid the burden and disruption of prolonged litigation."
In the commission's complaint, the alleged illegal payments and money movements are broken down into three areas, and several new allegations were brought to light.
The first section involves a secret Swiss bank account allegedly established by senior Goodyear officers sometime getween 1964 and 1966 that contained $522,000.
"These funds had not been reported on the books and records of Goodyear or its subsidiaries," the SEC alleged. "Between 1964 and 1973, at the directions of senior Goodyear officers, approximately $260,000 was transferred from the account and maintained at Goodyear's corporate offices in Akron, Ohio, and was distributed as illegal corporate contributions and for other purposes."
One company official has already been convicted of violating the law by contributing $40,000 of that money to the Finance Committee to Re-elect the President in 1972.
The Goodyear 8-K filing indicates for the first time that eight senior officers of Goodyear had agreed to give the committee their names as individual contributors for the $40,000. But, the 8-K revealed, the company declined a subsequent finance committee request to confirm that the contribution had been made by the individuals.
In addition to the contribution to the committee, other political contributions included $5,000 "toward Sen. Taft's (Robert Taft Jr. (R-Ohio) campaign deficit," according to the 8-K.
In a highly unusual disclosure, Goodyear also admitted that a now retired partner of Price-Waterhouse & Co., Goodyear's independent auditing firm, "was informed by his predecessor in 1965, when he assumed his responsibilities as the partner in charge of the company's account, as to the existence of an unrecorded foreign bank account."
The disclosure goes on to say that the unnamed partner "knew nothing of the use to which the funds in the account had been put and was led to believe that the account was not material in amount."
The account was not reported in the audit of the firm that year.
The second area of alleged illegal payments by Goodyear involved approximately $1 million of unreported funds that the firm reportedly maintained between 1973 and 1976 "in connection with its foreign operations."
"These monies were amassed by various means including the diversion from corporate revenues of cash and confidential rebates paid by suppliers to Goodyear subsidiaries, the issuance of false and fictitious checks and the issuance of false invoices," the SEC charged. "All of these efforts involved the falsification of the books and records of Goodyear."
Those funds were reportedly used to bribe minor government officials to insure "an adequate supply of raw materials, police protection and to secure government business."
The funds were also allegedly used "for political contributions, for payments to foreign labor officials to settle labor problems, and for the financing of, among other things, employee travel, schooling and moving expenses."
The SEC also charged that in one case Goodyear paid $134,000 to a Mexican rubber manufacturers' trade association official "in connection with obtaining government approval of the industry price increase for tires."
The third area of Goodyear improper payments charged by the SEC involved allegations that Goodyear spent "in excess of $500,000 in at least 20 countries as payments to political parties, low government officials, employees and agents as commercial bribes and other illegal or unaccountable payments to secure or influence government action, to acquire licenses," and many other favorable actions involving government purchases of Goodyear products and expedited customs clearences.
In one case Goodyear admitted to making "the payment of approximately $10,000 in 1972 to a third party to obtain a favorable court ruling in civil litigation involving the subsidiary," in Indonesia.