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Norway defense firm Kongsberg charged with corruption

Norway's anti-corruption agency has filed criminal charges against defense and technology firm Kongsberg Gruppen, the company said Tuesday.

The charges are related to deliveries of communication equipment to Romania from 1999 to 2008, the company said.

Kongsberg said it learned about the action Tuesday from the Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime.

Chief Executive Walter Qvam said at a news conference after the charges were disclosed that the company and one employee have been charged, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Kongsberg is 50% owned by the Norwegian government.

"The economic crime unit of the Norwegian police searched the company's headquarters in southern Norway, as well as an office in Asker," the WSJ said.

Last month, fertilizer-maker Yara International was fined $48 million by Norwegian authorities for paying $12 million in bribes between 2004 and 2009.

It admitted bribing senior government officials in India and Libya, including an oil minister of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. It also made corrupt payments to suppliers in Russia.

The Norwegian government owns 36.2 percent of Yara.

Kongberg's CEO Qvam said the company conducted an internal investigation with PwC "for more than a year" but decided in the fall of 2013 it didn't have enough information to take further action or notify outside authorities, the WSJ said.

Under Norwegian law, individuals can face up to ten years in prison for a corruption conviction and companies can be fined.

Kongsberg said in its statement Tuesday it will cooperate closely with the authorities "to clarify all the facts in relation to the charges."

The company said it has "a zero-tolerance for corruption among its employees, consultants and business associates."

Kongsberg Gruppen ASA shares trade on Nasdaq over the counter under the symbol NSKFF.


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.