U.S. court ends Pemex bribery case against Siemens, SK Engineering

Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:50pm EDT

People walk out of an office building of Siemens AG in Berlin July 29, 2013. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

People walk out of an office building of Siemens AG in Berlin July 29, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch

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(Reuters) - A U.S. federal judge has dismissed a $500 million lawsuit brought by state-owned Mexican oil company Pemex against Siemens AG (SIEGn.DE) and a South Korean company that claimed the defendants bribed Pemex officials to secure oil refinery projects in Mexico.

The case raised novel questions about who is a victim in corruption cases, but U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton of Manhattan did not address that issue, instead ruling Tuesday that Pemex could not bring the lawsuit because it had not shown its claims had enough contact with the United States.

The bribery and racketeering claims made by PEMEX "allege a foreign conspiracy against a foreign victim conducted by foreign defendants participating in foreign enterprises," the judge wrote.

The court could not address such "extraterritorial" claims, Stanton said.

Carlos Gonzalez, an attorney for Pemex, said the company is evaluating the court's decision and considering its options.

Pemex accused Siemens in December 2012 of paying Pemex officials to approve overrun and expense payments to a corporation partly owned by Korea's SK Engineering.

The bribery allegations in the suit were part of a scheme that has dogged the German conglomerate for years. Siemens paid a record $1.6 billion to U.S. and European authorities in 2008 to resolve allegations of bribery around the world, from Iraq to Argentina.

As part of that settlement, the company also pleaded guilty to U.S. criminal charges.

A representative for Siemens could not be reached after business hours in Germany. An attorney for SK Engineering was also not immediately available to comment.

The case is Petroleos Mexicanos et al v. SK Engineering & Construction Co Ltd et al, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, NO. 12-09070.

(Reporting By Erin Geiger Smith; Editing by Ken Wills)

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