June 7, 2010 / 6:28 PM / 10 years ago

Nigeria launches $15 mln Daimler bribery probe

ABUJA, June 7 (Reuters) - Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency said on Monday it was investigating the involvement of Nigerian officials in alleged bribes paid by luxury car and truck maker Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE) and a local vehicle assembly company.

Daimler in April paid $185 million to settle allegations it had violated U.S. anti-bribery laws by showering foreign government officials with money and gifts to win contracts. [ID:nN01141120]

Faridi Waziri, head of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said the agency had begun to probe $15 million of alleged bribes involving Daimler and Anammco, a Nigerian company that assembles Mercedes trucks and buses.

“We opened investigations into the Daimler/Anammco scam recently following a judgment in the U.S. where some Nigerians were convicted in relation to the Daimler bribery scam,” Waziri said in a statement.

“So far, we have interviewed about four officials and representatives of Daimler and Anammco in Nigeria,” she said, adding Nigeria’s attorney general had been asked to obtain a full copy of the U.S. judgment from the U.S. authorities.

Anammco was set up in the 1970s as a joint venture between Daimler, the Nigerian government and local investors.

Daimler sold its stake in 2007 in line with its policy not to invest in companies that are partly government-owned, according to the Anammco website.

Waziri said the Daimler probe showed Nigeria — regularly ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world — was serious about cracking cases “with international dimensions.”

The EFCC has also been investigating the involvement of prominent Nigerians in a corruption case involving Germany’s Siemens (SIEGn.DE), one of Germany’s biggest corporate scandals. [ID:nLDE64I2GA] (Reporting by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Randy Fabi and Maureen Bavdek)

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