Avon appoints former Novartis lawyer as general counsel

Jeff Benjamin brings 40 years of experience in litigation and compliance matters to the beauty company

Avon Products Inc. has named Jeff Benjamin as senior vice president and general counsel, replacing Kim Rucker, who left the beauty company for Kraft Foods Inc. in July.

From 1986 until his 2011 retirement, Benjamin held various legal positions at Novartis Corp. and its predecessor company, Ciba-Geigy Corp. For 13 of his 15 years with Novartis, he also served as chief ethics and compliance officer and chair of the ethics and compliance committee.

That experience will serve him well at Avon: Last October, the Securities and Exchange Commission launched an investigation into alleged Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations at the company. The government probe came on the heels of a lengthy internal investigation, during which the company reportedly uncovered millions of dollars of questionable payments to overseas officials. The bribery allegations ultimately led to the firing of four Avon executives.

In a statement, Avon CEO Sheri McCoy heralded Benjamin’s hiring as a sign of the company’s commitment to compliance. "Creating a productive work environment that continues to enhance our compliance culture is a priority," McCoy said. "Jeff's proven commitment to business ethics and law compliance and his credibility within and outside the legal profession will be a tremendous asset for Avon."

Read more on Benjamin’s appointment at Thomson Reuters.

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Alanna Byrne

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