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« Hollywood Sentencing Doesn't Happen | Main | Enforcement Report For Q1 '10 »
Thursday
Apr012010

The Daimler Settlement

The DOJ's release for Thursday, April 1, 2010 said:

WASHINGTON - Daimler AG, a German corporation, and three of its subsidiaries have resolved charges related to a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) investigation into the company’s worldwide sales practices, the Department of Justice announced today.

At a hearing today before U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon in the District of Columbia, Daimler AG’s Russian subsidiary DaimlerChrysler Automotive Russia SAO (DCAR), now known as Mercedes-Benz Russia SAO, and its German subsidiary, Export and Trade Finance GmbH (ETF), each pleaded guilty to criminal informations charging the companies with one count of conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA and one count of violating those provisions. As part of the plea agreements, DCAR and ETF agreed to pay criminal fines of $27.26 million and $29.12 million, respectively.

Daimler AG entered into a deferred prosecution agreement and agreed to the filing of a criminal information charging that company with one count of conspiracy to violate the books and records provisions of the FCPA and one count of violating those provisions. Daimler AG’s Chinese subsidiary DaimlerChrysler China Ltd. (DCCL), now known as Daimler North East Asia Ltd., also entered into a deferred prosecution agreement and agreed to the filing of a criminal information charging it with one count of conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA and one count of violating those provisions. In total, Daimler AG and its subsidiaries will pay $93.6 million in criminal fines and penalties. . . .

In connection with its guilty plea, DCAR admitted that it made improper payments to Russian federal and municipal government officials to secure contracts to sell vehicles by over-invoicing the customer and paying the excess amount back to the government officials, or to other designated third parties that provided no legitimate services to DCAR or Daimler AG. When requested, DCAR or Daimler AG employees caused the wire transfer of payments from Daimler AG’s bank accounts in Germany to, among other destinations, U.S. and Latvian bank accounts held by shell companies with the understanding that the money, in whole or in part, was for the benefit of Russian government officials.

In connection with its guilty plea, ETF admitted that it made corrupt payments directly to Croatian government officials and to third parties, including two U.S.-based corporate entities, with the understanding that the payments would be passed on, in whole or in part, to Croatian government officials, to assist in securing the sale of 210 fire trucks.

In connection with its deferred prosecution agreement, DCCL admitted that it made improper payments in the form of commissions, delegation travel, and gifts for the benefit of Chinese government officials or their designees in connection with sales of commercial vehicles and Unimogs to various Chinese government customers. DCCL admitted that in certain cases it used U.S.-based agents to facilitate the bribe payments.

Today, Judge Leon also entered a separate judgment against Daimler AG resolving a related civil complaint filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Daimler AG agreed to pay $91.4 million in disgorgement of profits relating to those violations.

*   *   *

Download the March 22, 2010 two-count criminal information in U.S. v. Daimler AG here.

Download a copy of the government's sentencing memorandum in U.S. v. Daimler AG here.

Download a copy of Daimler's deferred prosecution agreement here.

Download the civil complaint in SEC v. Daimler AG here.

Thanks to Marc Bohn for help with this and prior posts about Daimler.

*   *   *

Here's today's release (2010-51) from the SEC:

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced a settlement with Daimler AG for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), alleging that the Stuttgart, Germany-based automobile manufacturer engaged in a repeated and systematic practice of paying bribes to foreign government officials to secure business in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East

Daimler agreed to pay $91.4 million in disgorgement to settle the SEC's charges and pay $93.6 million in fines to settle charges in separate criminal proceedings announced today by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The SEC alleges that Daimler paid at least $56 million in improper payments over a period of more than 10 years. The payments involved more than 200 transactions in at least 22 countries. Daimler earned $1.9 billion in revenue and at least $90 million in illegal profits through these tainted sales transactions, which involved at least 6,300 commercial vehicles and 500 passenger cars. Daimler also paid kickbacks to Iraqi ministries in connection with direct and indirect sales of motor vehicles and spare parts under the United Nations Oil for Food Program. . . .

The SEC's complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges that Daimler used bribes to further government sales in such countries as Russia, China, Vietnam, Nigeria, Hungary, Latvia, Croatia, and Bosnia. . . .

The SEC alleges that bribes also were made through phony sales intermediaries and corrupt business partners, as well as through the use of cash desks. Sales executives would obtain cash from the company in amounts as high as hundreds of thousands of dollars, enabling Daimler to obscure the purpose and recipients of the money paid to government officials.

Daimler violated Section 30A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by making illicit payments to foreign government officials in order to obtain or retain business. Daimler violated Section 13(b)(2)(B) of the Exchange Act by failing to have adequate internal controls to detect and prevent the payments, and it violated Section 13(b)(2)(A) of the Exchange Act by improperly recording the payments in its books and records. . . .

 *   *   *

Daimler's statement said:

Stuttgart/Germany, April 1, 2010

Daimler AG announced today that it has reached a settlement of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations of violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Under the terms of the settlements, Daimler will pay a fine of USD 93.6 (approx. EUR 70) million and civil disgorgement of profits of USD 91.4 (approx. EUR 68) million. Sufficient provisions have been made to cover these charges.

Daimler cooperated with the SEC and the DOJ regarding the investigation into the past conduct. In the course of the investigation, which began in the fall 2004, Daimler took appropriate personnel and remedial actions to ensure that its conduct going forward complies with the Company’s Integrity Code and with all applicable laws.

"Compliance has high priority at Daimler,” stated Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG. “We have learnt a lot from past experience. Today, we are a better and stronger company, and we will continue to do everything we can to maintain the highest compliance standards." . . .

The deferred prosecution agreements of Daimler AG and Daimler North East Asia Ltd. are premised upon the requirement that no further FCPA violations occur during the two year term of the agreements and that a comprehensive compliance program is maintained. This program is designed to ensure, among other things, compliance with anti-bribery laws such as the FCPA. Upon successful satisfaction of the terms set forth in the deferred prosecution agreements, the matters against Daimler AG and Daimler North East Asia Ltd. will be dismissed without further action.

In addition, Judge Louis Freeh, will serve as a corporate compliance monitor for three years. . . .

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