Monday, December 15, 2008
The SEC settled charges that Siemens Aktiengesellschaft ("Siemens"), a Munich, Germany-based manufacturer of industrial and consumer products, violated the anti-bribery, books and records, and internal controls provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act ("FCPA"). Siemens has offered to pay a total of $1.6 billion in disgorgement and fines, which is the largest amount a company has ever paid to resolve corruption-related charges. Siemens has agreed to pay $350 million in disgorgement to the SEC. In related actions, Siemens will pay a $450 million criminal fine to the U.S. Department of Justice and a fine of €395 million (approximately $569 million) to the Office of the Prosecutor General in Munich, Germany. Siemens previously paid a fine of €201 million (approximately $285 million) to the Munich Prosecutor in October 2007.
The SEC alleged that between March 12, 2001 and September 30, 2007, Siemens violated the FCPA by engaging in a widespread and systematic practice of paying bribes to foreign government officials to obtain business. Siemens created elaborate payment schemes to conceal the nature of its corrupt payments, and the company's inadequate internal controls allowed the conduct to flourish. The misconduct involved employees at all levels, including former senior management, and revealed a corporate culture long at odds with the FCPA.
During this period, Siemens made thousands of payments to third parties in ways that obscured the purpose for, and the ultimate recipients of, the money. At least 4,283 of those payments, totaling approximately $1.4 billion, were used to bribe government officials in return for business to Siemens around the world.
Without admitting or denying the Commission's allegations, Siemens has consented to the entry of a court order permanently enjoining it from future violations and ordering it to comply with certain undertakings regarding its FCPA compliance program, including an independent monitor for a period of four years. On December 15, 2008, the court entered the final judgment. Since being approached by SEC staff, Siemens has cooperated fully with the ongoing investigation, and the SEC considered the remedial acts promptly undertaken by Siemens. Siemens' massive internal investigation and lower level employee amnesty program was essential in gathering facts regarding the full extent of Siemens' FCPA violations.