Sweden's Scania admits 'misconduct' in India after contract-for-bribes report

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - An internal investigation at Scania into its Indian operations found evidence of misconduct by employees including senior management, the Swedish bus and truck maker said on Wednesday, adding the individuals involved had all left the company.

The logo of Swedish truck maker Scania is pictured on a wheel at the IAA truck show in Hanover, September 22, 2016. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer/Files

The news comes after three media outlets, including Swedish news channel SVT, reported here Scania paid bribes to win bus contracts in seven Indian states between 2013 and 2016.

A Scania spokesman said the company, part of Volkswagen AG’s commercial vehicle arm Traton SE, started its internal investigation in 2017. The results have not previously been disclosed.

“This misconduct included alleged bribery, bribery through business partners and misrepresentation,” he said, without giving further details.

SVT's allegations here included that Scania delivered a specially equipped bus to a company with connections to India's Minister of Transport Nitin Gadkari that was intended for his daughter's wedding and was not fully paid for.

“Gadkari and his family members have absolutely nothing to do with the purchase or sale of the bus,” Gadkari’s office said in a statement.

“Since the entire episode of the Scania bus is an internal affair of the Swedish company, it will prudent for the media to wait for an official statement by Scania India which handled the matter,” it added.

The Scania spokesman said the company had not sold a bus to Gadkari and declined to comment further.

Scania CEO Henrik Henriksson told SVT the company had stopped selling city buses in India and had closed down its factory there.

“We may have been a bit naive, but we really went for it ... we really wanted to make it in India but underestimated the risks,” he was quoted as saying.

Henriksson said any wrongdoing in India had been committed by a few individuals who had since left the company, and all involved business partners had had their contracts canceled.

The Scania spokesman said its investigation of wrongdoing had not involved the police.

“While the evidence is sufficient to prove breaches in compliance with Scania’s own business codes so that the company can take severe action accordingly, the evidence is not strong enough to lead to prosecution,” the spokesman said.

($1 = 8.4990 Swedish crowns)

Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee and Helena Soderpalm in Stockholm. Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Mark Potter