Page last updated at 23:58 GMT, Tuesday, 23 March 2010

US charges car firm Daimler with violating bribery laws

Daimler logo and boss Dieter Zetsche
Daimler's Dieter Zetsche: the company gave no comment on the story

The German-based car company Daimler and three of its subsidiaries have been accused of paying bribes to a large number of foreign governments.

The allegations were made in court papers filed in the United States.

Daimler, which makes Mercedes-Benz cars and trucks, is said to have made payments from 1998 to 2008.

The US Justice Department has accused the company of paying tens of millions of dollars in bribes to officials of at least 22 governments.

They are alleged to include China, Russia, Egypt and Greece.

Iraq claim

The money was allegedly aimed at persuading governments to buy Daimler vehicles in deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

One accusation is that Daimler paid kickbacks to Iraqi government officials to secure deals to sell vehicles, violating the United Nations' Oil for Food Program.

Another allegations is that Daimler gave an official in Turkmenistan an armoured car as a birthday present to encourage him to grant a contract to supply government vehicles.

American law prohibits companies which operate in the US from making improper payments to officials of other countries.

Reuters news agency says it has learned from a source close to Daimler, which has been led by chief executive Dieter Zetsche since 2006, that it is preparing to pay a fine of $185m (£121m) to the US Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

If the settlement goes ahead, it would mark the latest in a string of recent agreements between the US and major companies over foreign bribery allegations.

Siemens agreed in December to pay $1.3bn to end corruption probes in the United States and Germany.

Daimler has previously acknowledged payments that raised legal concerns and has said it is co-operating with investigators.



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