Bribery in South Africa
Million buses for ABB also in Switzerland
The federal prosecutor’s office has concluded the criminal proceedings against the Swiss ABB group. In addition to a fine in Switzerland, he also has to pay settlement payments in South Africa and to US authorities.
ABB has to pay 4 million fines in Switzerland. In addition, there are comparative payments in South Africa and the USA.
Last July it became known that South Africa had brought charges of corruption and fraud against two former employees of the Swiss energy and automation technology group ABB. As a result, ABB had to set aside provisions of US$325 million.
The Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office: They issued a penalty order for “violation of the criminal code”. As a result, ABB will be fined CHF 4 million, and ABB will also have to bear the costs of the proceedings in the amount of CHF 50,000. The maximum penalty legally possible in Switzerland for this offense is 5 million Swiss francs. The Zurich-based group has accepted the penalty order and the associated allegations, according to the federal prosecutor.
ABB was accused of paying bribes to public officials in South Africa and that ABB had done too little to prevent them. Specifically, it was about contracts for the construction of a coal-fired power plant in South Africa. The accused are said to have harmed the electricity company Eskom involved in the construction, for which ABB was a contractor, by accepting bribes. ABB South Africa received orders worth at least 200 million US dollars with bribes of at least 1.3 million Swiss francs.
Comparison with South Africa – and America?
Yesterday, ABB was able to reach a settlement with the South African law enforcement agency. As part of the deal, ABB committed to paying R2.5 billion, the equivalent of around CHF135 million. ABB thus also accepted responsibility for the suspected criminal behavior of its employees.
The South African authority commended ABB’s willing cooperation with law enforcement in the investigation. In Switzerland, too, ABB’s willingness to cooperate was taken into account as a mitigating measure.
The matter is not quite finished yet: According to the federal prosecutor’s office, an agreement between ABB and the American authorities – the Department of Justice and the US Securities and Exchange Commission – is still to be expected today. (SDA/rae)