In: Historical Events

Submitted By nas5431
Words 738
Pages 3
Siemens Bribery Scandal

In December 2008 Siemens, the large German electronics firm, agreed to pay $1.6 billion in fines to settle legal suits bought by the U.S. and German governments. The governments asserted that Siemens had used bribes to win business in countries around the world. These were the largest fines ever levied against a company for bribes, reflecting the scale of the problem at Siemens. Since 1999, the company had apparently paid some $1.4 billion in bribes. In Bangladesh, Siemens paid $5 million to the son of the prime minister to win a mobile phone contract. In Nigeria, it paid $12.7 million to various officials to win government telecommunications contracts. In Argentina, Siemens paid at least $40 million in bribes to win a $1 billion contract to produce national identity cards. In Israel, the company “provided” $20 million to senior government officials in order to win a contract to build power plants. In China, it paid $14 million to government officials to win a contract to supply medical equipment. And so on. Corruption at Siemens was apparently deeply embedded in the business culture. Before 1999, bribery of foreign officials was not illegal in Germany, and bribes could be deducted as a business expense under the German tax code. In this permissive environment, Siemens subscribed to the straightforward rule of adhering to local practices. If bribery was common in a country, Siemens would routinely use bribes to win business.
Inside Siemens, bribes were referred to as “useful money.” When the German law changed in 1999, Siemens carried on as before, but put in place elaborate mechanisms to hide what it was doing. Money was transferred into hard to trace bank accounts in Switzerland. These funds were then used to hire an outside “consultant” to help win a contract. The consultant would in turn deliver the cash to the ultimate recipient,…...

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