MUNICH, April 15 German authorities say they
have targeted nine suspects, including former staff of
Hewlett-Packard Co (HPQ.N), in a probe into whether the world's
top PC maker paid bribes to win business in Russia.
Prosecutors in the eastern German city of Dresden said on
Thursday they had asked Russian colleagues to search HP offices
in Moscow to check suspicions that around 8 million euros ($10.9
million) in bribes changed hands to win a contract.
"The case came to light here," a spokesman for the
prosecutors' office in Dresden said. "The suspicion is that 8
million euros in kickback payments were made."
Russian prosecutors on Wednesday raided HP's Moscow offices
at the behest of German authorities. [ID:nNLDE63D11]
Investigators became suspicious after an audit of a small
company in the eastern German state of Saxony turned up money
transfers that seemed to produce nothing real in return.
That led to what the spokesman called an international
network of money transfers and prompted German officials to
search HP premises in the southern town of Boeblingen and in
Munich in early December.
He said investigators are examining a 35 million euro
contract that HP won in 2000 to provide computers and software
for criminal prosecutors in Moscow. The contract was wrapped up
The unidentified suspects are under investigation for
possible breach of trust, tax evasion and bribery of foreign
officials, the spokesman said.
German prosecutors were awaiting documents seized in the
searches in Moscow before deciding how to proceed.
HP said on Wednesday that a probe was under way but would
not confirm specific charges.
"This is an investigation of alleged conduct that occurred
almost seven years ago, largely by employees no longer with HP,"
the company said in a statement.
"We are cooperating fully with the German and Russian
authorities and will continue to conduct our own internal
The case is the latest corruption probe to make headlines in
Carmaker Daimler (DAIGn.DE) last month agreed to pay $185
million to settle U.S. charges it showered foreign officials
with money and gifts to win contracts, including in Russia.
Engineering group Siemens (SIEGn.DE) agreed in 2008 to pay
$1.3 billion to end corruption probes in the United States and
(Reporting by Jens Hack; Additional reporting by Anastasia
Teterevleva in Moscow and Gabriel Madway in San Francisco;
Writing by Michael Shields; Editing by David Cowell)