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  • CFO Asia

Harder to Hide

The Siemens bribery scandal is spurring governments around the world to cooperate on prosecuting corporate crime.

The massive Siemens bribery scandal — involving alleged payments to
government officials around the world — continues
to ensnare company officials. The latest victim is the new
CFO of the company’s industry division, whose appointment was
revoked after company officials reviewed prosecution documents.

The Siemens case, which spans many jurisdictions, signals
a clear trend in enforcement, says Lesli Ligorner, a partner
with law firm Paul, Hastings in Shanghai: closer cooperation
among governments, which are more readily sharing information.
This makes it easier for them to prosecute corporate
crime, says Ligorner. “Over the last two years, I’ve seen a flood
of work in this area [as a result].”

This is particularly evident in China, where officials are
providing more assistance to other governments in the interest
of combating that country’s own corruption problems.

The closer attention to bribery has netted several companies
recently. In October, Schnitzer Steel, a U.S. metals recycler,
received a criminal fine of US$7.5 million and other penalties
exceeding another US$7.5 million stemming from kickbacks
in China and Korea. Last September Paragon, a Netherlands-
based company, reached a deferred prosecution agreement
with prosecutors for bribes made in China, Kazakhstan,
Mexico, and Nigeria.

Then there’s Siemens, which was fined 201 million
euros in October. A U.S. investigation is underway, too. “If the
SEC investigation leads to enforcement, that case could break
all records,” says John Bray, a director with consulting firm
Control Risks.

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