Herbalife to Sign Anti-Graft Agreement With Gov’t

Herbalife, the multinational nutrition company under investigation by the U.S.’ FBI for its suspect business practices, will become the third company to sign a symbolic agreement with Cambodia’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) that emphasizes the firm’s commitment to aboveboard operations in the country.

The New York Stock Exchange-listed company, whose products include nutritional and weight-loss supplements, will sign a memorandum of understanding with the ACU on December 9 to show the anti-graft body that the company “is clean and clear,” said Sim Dyna, general manager of Herbalife (Cambodia) Co., Ltd.

“We want to tell the government and ACU that we are clean…and a tax- and law-compliant company. We want the government to help us to fight against corruption and unnecessary spending,” he said, using a euphemism for bribery.

Herbalife is currently being investigated by the FBI and U.S. Federal Trade Commission for allegedly operating as a pyramid scheme. The investigation follows accusations against the company made by hedge-fund manager Bill Ackman, who has likened its business model to a “chain letter.”

“What they really sell and what their distributors make money from is by selling—what they call—a business opportunity,” he told CNN Money.

The agreement Herbalife is set to sign with the ACU next month would see the company follow in the footsteps of Coca-Cola and insurance firm Prudential.

ACU chairman Om Yentieng could not be reached Thursday.

Bou Bunnara, chief of the public relations unit at the Finance Ministry’s customs department, said companies that sign onto the ACU’s agreement are more likely to have their applications approved for the department’s Best Trader Group (BTG) program.

The BTG scheme entitles traders that meet certain criteria to fast-track their products through customs, and skip submitting clearance documents.

“[The products] go through directly, with no physical inspection either,” Mr. Bunnara added.

styllis@cambodiadaily.com

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