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SEC charges Hewlett-Packard for international bribes

Hewlett-Packard will pay more than $108 million in a settlement agreement after the Securities and Exchange Commission charged the company Tuesday with bribing government officials to obtain public contracts.

In their order, the SEC says Hewlett-Packard’s subsidiaries violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by making “unlawful payments to various foreign government officials to obtain business” in Russia, Poland and Mexico, as well as falsely recording the gifts in the books as “legitimate consulting and service contracts, commissions, or travel expenses.” An SEC press release states that the subsidiaries paid more than $3.5 million to obtain and retain contracts:

The SEC’s order instituting settled administrative proceedings finds that the Palo Alto, Calif.-based technology company’s subsidiary in Russia paid more than $2 million through agents and various shell companies to a Russian government official to retain a multi-million dollar contract with the federal prosecutor’s office. In Poland, Hewlett-Packard’s subsidiary provided gifts and cash bribes worth more than $600,000 to a Polish government official to obtain contracts with the national police agency. And as part of its bid to win a software sale to Mexico’s state-owned petroleum company, Hewlett-Packard’s subsidiary in Mexico paid more than $1 million in inflated commissions to a consultant with close ties to company officials, and money was funneled to one of those officials.