updated 06:15 pm EDT, Fri August 13, 2010
DOJ checking HP bribes after Germany hindered
The US Department of Justice was reported on Friday as having launched a direct investigation into allegations of HP bribery in Russia. It had previously been sidelined but took direct involvement after HP denied German prosecutors documents that might prove the claims, according to the WSJ. Getting the documents was was supposedly an "undue hardship" for HP partly due to age, as the oldest documents were five years old.
DOJ requests are thought to be voluntary for now, but it and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) consider it a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act case and could force HP to give up documents if they have sufficient cause.
An investigation had begun in Germany two years ago after three HP executives, and seven "accomplices," allegedly tried to bribe the Russian prosecutor general's office with the equivalent of 8 million euros ($10.2 million) to guarantee a computer contract through a German subsidiary. First arrests only took place this past December once police had enough evidence to make an arrest.
None of the involved parties, including the DOJ and SEC, have agreed to comment.
News of an American investigation would compound one of the most difficult weeks in HP's memory. The company's now former CEO, Mark Hurd, resigned abruptly after claims of sexual harassment and improper use of expenses, both of which the executive now says were inaccurate. Hurd was credited with presiding over a recovery and near 'golden age' for HP that has seen it lead world PC share, but his downfall and now the investigation have cast doubt on its future performance.