Thursday, December 15, 2011
Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) charged eight former executives and agents of Siemens AG of Germany and its subsidiaries with paying $100 million in bribes to officials in Argentina to get a $1 billion government contract to make national identity cards. This case is the largest one ever filed under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). In addition, this case involves the first-ever indictment under the FCPA of a board member of a global Fortune 500 company, Mr. Uriel Sharef, a former member of Siemen's central executive committee. Although the relevant actors are not U.S. persons and the alleged illegal actions took place aboard, the U.S. government asserts jurisdiction over the matter because Siemens is registered on the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission and its shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The Siemens executives also allegedly laundered $25 million through New York banks.
Three years ago, the Siemens company settled a related FCPA case brought by the US DOJ for $800 million as well as a separate corruption case brought by German authorities for $800 million. The US DOJ is now going after the responsible individuals.