Avon Suspends 4 Executives in Probe

Company is investigating bribery allegations that started in China

Beauty products seller Avon Products Inc. said on April 13 it put four executives on administrative leave, as part of an investigation of bribery allegations that started in China.

The suspensions were first reported in the Wall Street Journal, which said three of the executives are based in China and one is in New York, citing people familiar with the matter it did not name. Avon did not confirm their locations.

Avon began investigating its China operations in 2008 after it received an allegation that some travel, entertainment and other expenses may have been improper, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Since then, the investigation has spread to other, undisclosed countries, Avon has said.

Avon spokeswoman Jennifer Vargas says in an e-mail to the AP that the investigation is ongoing and the company hasn't reached any conclusions.

Avon's overseas sales account for about 80% of its revenue, mostly from emerging markets such as Latin America.

In 2009, revenue from China rose less than 1% to $353.4 million, while total Avon revenue fell 3% to $10.38 billion.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press

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