HP pays DOJ, SEC $108 million to settle foreign bribery investigation

Summary:While HP's payout settles investigations with U.S. regulators, settlements with international authorities remain.

The corruption case that has embroiled HP has somewhat come to a resolution. 

To back track, U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission investigated allegations that certain current and former employees of HP Russia engaged in bribery, embezzlement and tax evasion — which constitute violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

HP announced Wednesday that it will pay $108 million to the DOJ and SEC to resolve those charges and charges against other foreign HP subsidiaries, and that it has agreed to undertake certain compliance, reporting and cooperation obligations.

John Schultz, executive vice president and general counsel for HP, released the following statement:

The misconduct described in the settlement was limited to a small number of people who are no longer employed by the company. HP fully cooperated with both the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission in the investigation of these matters and will continue to provide customers around the world with top quality products and services without interruption.

On a deeper level, the $108 million is a sum of four penalties. On top of the HP Russia allegations, HP subsidiaries in Poland and Mexico were probed for shoddy dealings relating to Poland's national police agency and Mexico's state-owned petroleum agency.

HP Poland was charged with violating the accounting provisions of the FCPA while HP Mexico has entered into a non-prosecution agreement with the government where it will forfeit proceeds and admit and accept responsibility for misconduct.

In total, the three HP entities will pay $76,760,224 in criminal penalties and forfeiture.

The SEC then filed a final judgement against HP under which the company agreed to pay $31,472,250 in disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and civil penalties, bringing the total amount of U.S. criminal and regulatory penalties to the $108-million mark.

Deputy Assistant Attorney General Swartz said in a DOJ announcement:

Hewlett-Packard subsidiaries created a slush fund for bribe payments, set up an intricate web of shell companies and bank accounts to launder money, employed two sets of books to track bribe recipients, and used anonymous email accounts and prepaid mobile telephones to arrange covert meetings to hand over bags of cash. Even as the tradecraft of corruption becomes more sophisticated, the department is staying a step ahead of those who choose to violate our laws, thanks to the diligent efforts of U.S. prosecutors and agents and our colleagues at the SEC, as well as the tremendous cooperation of our law enforcement partners in Germany, Poland and Mexico.

HP defended its actions in its annual report filed last December, saying that in many foreign countries, particularly in those with developing economies, it is common to engage in business practices that are prohibited by laws and regulations in the U.S.

It's important to state that while HP's $108 million settles investigations with U.S. regulators, settlements with international authorities remain.

Related coverage:

Topics: Government

About

Natalie Gagliordi is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in Louisville, Kentucky, covering business technology for ZDNet. She previously worked as the editor of Kiosk Marketplace, an online B2B trade publication that focused on interactive self-service technology, while also contributing to additional websites that covered retail tec... Full Bio

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