The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) isn’t just for technology companies —manufacturers can run afoul of the law as well. Automated teller machine (ATM) manufacturer Diebold Inc. has learned this lesson the hard way and now faces a $48 million settlement after foreign bribery charges.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) claims that Diebold attempted to bribe officials from China, Indonesia and Russia in exchange for government contracts on ATMs. The government estimates that Diebold spent $1.8 million on travel for foreign dignitaries and an additional $1.2 million in bribes to Russian officials to falsify books and records. In one instance, the SEC says, Diebold allegedly paid for Chinese bank officials to take a two-week trip around Europe, including stops in Paris and Rome.
Through the terms of the agreement, Diebold will enter a three-year deferred prosecution agreement and retain a compliance monitor for at least 18 months. If the company abides by the terms of the agreement for all three years, then charges will be dropped.
“A bribe is a bribe, whether it’s a stack of cash or an all-expense-paid trip to Europe,” said Scott W. Friestad, an associate director in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, in a press release. “Public companies must be held accountable when they break the law to influence government officials with improper payments or gifts.”
According to The New York Times, Diebold is simply happy to have the investigation behind them and is looking forward. “It’s imperative for Diebold to recognize these issues head on, acknowledge responsibility, put the FCPA investigation period behind it and get on with the business of managing the company,” a Diebold spokesman said. In its filing, the Justice Department acknowledged Diebold’s own company compliance as a reason for a potentially more lenient penalty.
For more stories of companies running afoul of the FCPA, read these InsideCounsel articles: