WASHINGTON (CN) – Daimler will pay $185 million to settle civil and criminal charges that it bribed foreign officials in 22 countries on three continents to get business, federal prosecutors said. Daimler paid more than $56 million in bribes for more than a decade, through “dozens of ledger accounts” it used “to maintain credit balances for the benefit of government officials,” the Justice Department said.
Daimler will disgorge $91.4 million to settle the SEC’s civil charges and pay $93.6 million in fines to settle the Department of Justice’s criminal complaint. The Justice Department called it “global bribery.”
“The payments involved more than 200 transactions in at least 22 countries,” the Justice Department said in announcing the settlement on Thursday. “Daimler earned $1.9 billion in revenue and at least $90 million in illegal profits through these tainted sales transactions, which involved at least 6,300 commercial vehicles and 500 passenger cars. Daimler also paid kickbacks to Iraqi ministries in connection with direct and indirect sales of motor vehicles and spare parts under the United Nations Oil for Food Program.
“‘It is no exaggeration to describe corruption and bribe-paying at Daimler as a standard business practice,'” SEC enforcement director Robert Khuzami said in a statement.
Daimler agreed to the consent order, but did not admit it did anything wrong, the Justice Department said.