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Ex-HP Managers Charged in Germany with Bribery – Will Failure to Self-Disclose Hurt?

As reported by Karin Matussek of Bloomberg News yesterday three former Hewlett-Packard (HP) managers were charged in Germany in a corruption investigation over improper payments made to win a €35 million ($45 million) sale of computers to Russia about nine years ago.

One of the ex-managers charged is a Finnish woman. The other two are men, one American and one German. The German authorities started their probe back in 2009, after provincial tax authorities found, in a routine audit of an unrelated company, evidence of payments for which “real use could be established for some payments found in the accounts. The owner of that company was charged.”

HP’s subsidiary in Munich was subsequently investigated by German authorities, with the company’s offices being raided in December, 2009 and the company’s Moscow’s offices were searched in 2010. Matussek reported that German “Prosecutors asked the court to make Hewlett-Packard an associated party to the case.” She quoted Wolfgang Klein, spokesman for Saxony’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office, who told her that “If the court grants that request and the allegations are proved, Hewlett-Packard’s profits from the transaction may be seized”. The company itself said that it was fully cooperating with the authorities and a company spokesperson, Anette Nachbar, said in an email that HP “stresses that the company expects from employees and partners strict compliance of its business principles.”

The Bloomberg article reminded me about the underlying facts of the HP case and just how bad they were. On April 15, 2010, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that three middlemen were alleged to have paid invoices, using funds provided by HP, for equipment never purchased, to shell companies with bank accounts in Latvia, Lithuania, Austria, Switzerland and Belize ...

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