Filed under: Government/Legal
An investigation by the US Department of Justice into charges that Daimler bribed officials in 22 countries with “tens of millions of dollars” to win contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars from 1998 to 2008 has almost come to a close. Daimler paid $195 million in fines to the DoJ and the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2010 over the issue and, along with three subsidiaries in Germany, Russia and China, agreed to a deferred prosecution agreement that placed it under two years of probation. The probation was extended in April 2012 until the end of last year, but it appears Daimler has satisfied the DoJ overlords and the matter can now be resolved.
Bribing officials in order to do gain or hold onto business is prohibited – anywhere in the world – by any company doing business in the US by the 1977 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Thorough changes were made to Daimler’s hierarchy, with new watchdog positions created to manage the sales and contract process, new chains of command, and enforcement powers given to those positions. There is even an “integrity truck” that makes stops at Daimler facilities to teach employees “what’s considered improper behavior.”
Still, it’s a It’s an interesting hot-button campaign waged by the DoJ in a conflicting global business climate. Since there are still quite a few countries around the world where you simply can’t do business without bribery, Daimler’s punishment is a bit like “handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500,” to borrow the line from Apocalypse Now. Supporting that analogy, a former Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer said in 2010, “FCPA enforcement is somewhat similar to speed camera enforcement. DOJ has been telling the world upfront this is a priority. If your picture is taken, you will get charged.” European companies BAE Systems and Siemens, and American firm Dooney & Bourke, among others, have also had their ‘pictures taken’ and paid huge fines, so at least Daimler’s got blue-chip company in the penalty box.