Switzerland: Siemens Fined Millions for Swiss Bribes

Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery, a Swedish subsidiary of Siemens AG, has been fined $US 11 million for bribing a Russian gas company, reports the Associated Press.

Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery was found guilty of “organizational offenses,” using Swiss bank accounts to bribe executives of a “Russian state-owned” gas production company. According to the Associated Press, although Gazprom was not mentioned by name, it is the only state-owned gas company in Russia.

Swiss prosecutors say that Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery paid the bribes between 2004 and 2006 to land the contract to supply gas turbines for the Yamal gas pipeline, which transports gas from Russia to Belarus, Poland, and Germany. Construction of the Gazprom pipeline was completed in 2006, and in April of this year Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans for its potential extension into Central Europe.

This is the second time this week Siemens has been linked to corporate bribes in Switzerland. In a separate case, the Federal Prosecutor's Office in Switzerland seized US $65 million from executives and shell companies using bribes to win Siemens contracts in the Greek telecommunications market, reports Swissinfo.

In the conclusion to this eight-year investigation, former Siemens executives and lawyers were charged with bribery and money laundering. Swiss authorities did not, however, investigate the Siemens group itself.

In an interview with swissinfo.ch, the president of Transparency International Switzerland, Jean-Pierre Méan, stated that these fraud and bribery investigations are a step in the right direction. He said, “There is a political will to clean up the Swiss financial sector. Progress has certainly been made, but the job has not yet been completed.”

According to Swissinfo, Siemens paid over US $2 billion in bribes in the 1990s and 2000s.