The SEC has charged seven former Siemens executives with bribing leaders in Argentina and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in a decade-long bribery scheme to get a $1 billion government contract to produce national identity cards for Argentine citizens. The executives worked at Siemens and its regional company Siemens Argentina.
Siemens was previously charged with FCPA violations and paid $1.6 billion to resolve the charges with the SEC, US Department of Justice, and Office of the Prosecutor General in Munich. Siemens paid more than $100 million in bribes to such high-ranking officials as two former Argentine presidents and former cabinet members. The executives falsified documents including invoices and sham consulting contracts, and participated in meetings in the United States to negotiate the terms of bribe payments. They used U.S. bank accounts to pay some of the bribes.
According to the SEC’s complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the scheme lasted from approximately 1996 to early 2007. Initially, the bribes were paid to secure a $1 billion contract to produce national identity cards known as Documentos Nacionales de Identidad (DNI) for every Argentine citizen. After a change in Argentine political administrations resulted in the DNI contract being suspended and then canceled, Siemens paid additional bribes in a failed effort to revive the DNI contract. When the company later instituted an arbitration proceeding to recover its costs and expected profits from the canceled contract, Siemens paid additional bribes to suppress evidence that the contract originally had been obtained through corruption.