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H-P Under Scrutiny

A few weeks ago the U.S. wrapped up an FCPA enforcement action against a German company for improper conduct in, among other places, Russia (see here).

This week, it is German and Russian authorities investigating a U.S. company for improper conduct in Russia.

It’s an ironic world we live in.

Tit for tat or merely a coincidence?

Likely the later.

As widely reported, German and Russian authorities are investigating whether Hewlett-Packard Co. (H-P) executives paid millions of dollars in bribes to win a contract in Russia with … get this … the office of the prosecutor general of the Russian Federation – the office that handles criminal prosecutions in Russia, including corruption cases.

According to “investigation-related documents submitted to a German court and reviewed by the Wall Street Journal,” the payments, approximately $11 million, were reportedly funneled through a “network of shell companies and accounts in places including Britian, Austria, Switzerland, the British Virgin Islands, Belize, New Zealand, Latvia, Lithuania, Delaware and Wyoming.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, “H-P learned details of the probe in December when police in Germany and Switzerland presented search warrants detailing allegations against 10 suspects.”

Media reports indicate that earlier this week Russian investigators raided H-P’s Moscow headquarters in connection with the investigation.

According to the Wall Street Journal, both the DOJ and SEC have joined the probe.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “the investigation was started in 2007 when a tax auditor discovered bank records showing that between 2004 and 2006, the H-P subsidiary paid €22 million into the account of ProSoft Krippner GmbH, a small computer-hardware company in Leipzig” and that “the size of the payment to ProSoft Krippner caught the tax auditor’s attention, and that he flagged the transfer to a special prosecution team in Dresden that handles major corruption cases.” The Wall Street Journal reports that ProSoft Krippner’s Chief Executive, Ralf Krippner, is also a member of the local parliament in the German district of North Saxony.”

According to the WSJ, “an H-P spokeswoman said the company had discussions Thursday with the SEC regarding the German probe ‘and is fully cooperating with U.S. and German authorities on this matter.'”

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