HP USA has agreed to pay over R1 billion in fines to settle allegations that its subsidiaries had bribed officials in Poland, Russia and Mexico in order to win business contracts. The fine will be paid to the US Justice Department and the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
A statement released by the US Justice Department stated that the bribes totalled more than R20 000 000 in Russia, more than R10 000 000 in Mexico and more than R6 000 000 in Poland. The statement also said that HP had cooperated extensively with the Justice Department during the investigation.
In Poland, a government official was given bags filled money, an HP laptop and an HP desktop computer as well as mobile devices and other products, including HP ink cartridges and toner cartridges. The official was also taken on an all-expenses paid tour of Las Vegas.
The Russian bribes were transferred through a number of slush companies or laundered through bank accounts in Switzerland, Lithuania, Latvia and Austria. To keep track of the payments, the schemers at HP Russia kept two sets of books: secret spreadsheets that detailed the recipients of the corrupt funds and cleaned up books that hid the payments from others in the company.
HP Mexico also falsified their records in order to bypass HP’s internal controls regarding contracts in order to sell hardware, software and licenses to the Mexican state-owned petroleum company, Petróleos Mexicanos, through a third-party consultant.
HP has stated that the bribery was limited to a small number of people who are no longer employed by the company.