German Authorities Investigating HP
By Leah Nylen | April 15, 2022 10:21 am

German authorities are investigating nine Hewlett Packard executives in connection with a probe into whether the computer giant paid bribes to Russian officials in order to secure a contract.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the news Wednesday.

Three of the executives, including two who no longer work for the company, were arrested in December in Germany and Switzerland, Wolfgang Klein, a spokesman for the German prosecutors, told the Associated Press.

On Wednesday, Russian authorities searched HP’s Moscow office as part of the probe. German prosecutors believe HP may have paid €8 million — about $10.9 million — in order to secure a €35 million contract that HP acquired in 2000 to provide computers to Russian criminal prosecutors.

They are also looking into whether HP funneled the alleged bribes through accounts in Britain, Austria, Switzerland, the British Virgin Islands, Belize, New Zealand, Latvia, Lithuania, and the states of Delaware and Wyoming, according to the Journal.

The executives could be charged with possible breach of trust, tax evasion and bribery of foreign officials, a German spokesman told Reuters. Under German criminal law, prosecutors cannot charge corporations, only individuals. A court could seize any profits that are found to have resulted from the illicit conduct, he said.

According to the Journal, HP has not disclosed the probe in its most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC could open an inquiry into whether the company violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the U.S.’s primary anti-corruption law that prohibits companies from bribing foreign officials. The SEC decline comment to the paper.

HP confirmed to Reuters Thursday that it is under investigation.

“This is an investigation of alleged conduct that occurred almost seven years ago, largely by employees no longer with HP,” the company said in a statement to Reuters. “We are cooperating fully with the German and Russian authorities and will continue to conduct our own internal investigation.”

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