The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) has been in place for over three decades, but in the last few years, fines for FCPA infractions have increased as the United States has become more vigilant in attacking corruption and bribery on a global scale.
The latest company to be hit with a fine for corruption is the German engineering firm Bilfinger SE. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) charged the company with FCPA violation stemming from bribes the firm paid to government officials in Nigeria. These resulted in contracts that gave Bilfinger a juicy slice of a $387 million gas project.
Bilfinger entered into a three-year deferred-prosecution agreement with the DOJ, agreeing to play a $32 million penalty and bring on an independent compliance monitor for a period of at least 18 months.
The accusations date back to at least 2003, when prosecutors allege that Bilfinger and Houston-based Willbros Group started paying more than $6 million in bribes over a two-year span in order to obtain and retain gas contracts. Willbros settled with the DOJ in 2008, paying $22 million in penalties that stemmed from this incident and one in Ecuador. The incidents resulted in jail time for one Willbros consultant and a former executive from the firm is now on the run from the law.
To cover the cost of the bribes, Bilfinger and Willbros inflated the price of its bid by 3 percent, and prosecutors allege that Bilfinger loaned Willbros at least $1 million to cover a portion of the bribes.
“We are pleased that we have now been able to put these events from the distant past behind us,” Roland Koch, Bilfinger’s CEO, said in a statement.
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