Diebold settles U.S. bribery charges for $48 million

Tue Oct 22, 2013 1:24pm EDT

(Reuters) - Diebold Inc, the largest U.S. provider of automated teller machines, will pay roughly $48.1 million to settle U.S. criminal and civil charges that it bribed bank officials in China and Indonesia and paid bribes in Russia to win business.

The company agreed to pay a $25.2 million fine and enter a three-year deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to resolve charges that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act between 2005 and 2010.

It will also pay $22.9 million to resolve related U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission civil charges. Both settlements also call for the company, based in North Canton, Ohio, to appoint an independent compliance monitor.

The agencies on Tuesday said Diebold units in China and Indonesia spent about $1.75 million on gifts for senior officials at government-owned banks to influence their purchasing decisions.

According to the SEC, these gifts included trips to such places as Disneyland, Las Vegas, Paris and Bali that were booked as "training" or other legitimate business expenses.

The agencies also accused Diebold of funneling through a distributor in Russia about $1.2 million of bribes that were hidden with phony service contracts, and were ultimately paid to employees of privately-owned banks in that country.

"Corporate earnings cannot be placed above the rule of law, and today's penalties ... send the message again, loud and clear, that such conduct is unacceptable," Steven Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, said in a statement.

The Justice Department said its penalty reflects Diebold's cooperation with its probe and voluntary disclosures.

Mike Jacobsen, a Diebold spokesman, called the settlements "an important step for the company. It is imperative for Diebold to recognize these issues head on, acknowledge responsibility, and put the FCPA investigation behind it."

The Justice Department filed the deferred prosecution agreement with the federal court in Akron, Ohio, while the SEC filed its charges with the federal court in Washington, D.C.

A deferred prosecution agreement allows a company to avoid possible criminal charges by fulfilling certain conditions, which can result in dismissal of the case.

In afternoon trading, Diebold shares were up 19 cents at $29.91 on the New York Stock Exchange.

The cases are U.S. v. Diebold Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, No. 13-cr-00464; and SEC v. Diebold Inc, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, No. 13-01609.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Andrew Hay)