Tech companies better take note: the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are targeting high-tech firms for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). And this scrutiny is not just limited to U.S. governmental agencies, as Hewlett-Packard recently discovered.
Companies in the financial services field have always been highly aware of the FCPA. These organizations have always taken great pains to ensure compliance with FCPA, avoiding allegations of bribery at all cost. But, as evinced by recent activity by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, the federal government is also scrutinizing insurance, retail and tech companies with equal fervor.
Both Microsoft and IBM have recently faced governmental inquiries, and the latest tech firm to deal with allegations of violating FCPA is HP. But HP’s troubles do not end at the borders of the United States, as the Polish government – specifically, the Polish Central Anti-Corruption Bureau – has joined in the investigation.
The government agencies are looking into allegations that an employee of a Polish division of HP was involved in certain public sector transactions that may be in violation of FCPA, which forbids the use of bribes to foreign officials for business purposes.
The U.S. government is also investigating other HP dealings in nations besides Poland. HP representatives say agencies are probing transactions in Russia, Mexico, the Commonwealth of Independent States and more. The investigation into alleged wrongdoing at HP dates back to at least 2010, when the DOJ and SEC began looking into transactions in Serbia.
The investigation was purportedly set off by allegations of bribes paid to various officials in a number of eastern European countries, perhaps dating as far back as 2001. The addition of Poland to the slate of countries looking into HP’s activities only underscores the scope of the issue and is likely not the last nation that will join in the investigation.