US fines Chile-based airline LATAM $22 million over bribes

SANTIAGO, Chile – U.S. authorities say Latin America’s largest airline has agreed to some $22 million in civil and criminal fines in connection with a scheme to pay bribes to end a labour strike in Argentina a decade ago.

Chile-based carrier LATAM will pay $12.75 million to the U.S. Justice Department and $9.4 million including interest to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The penalties stem from an investigation into payments made in 2006 by LAN airlines, which merged with Brazil’s TAM in 2012 to create LATAM.

The Justice Department said in a Monday statement that LAN had entered into a “fictitious $1.15 million consulting agreement with an advisor to the Secretary of Argentina’s Ministry of Transportation.” It said no consulting services were provided and the money was funneled to union officials.