updated 11:12 am EST, Wed January 30, 2013
Culpability depends on which trips were paid for
Apple could be guilty of trying to bribe Russian officials through a seminar in London, according to Russian news agency Regnum. The service says that Apple is organizing a week-long event during which Russian regional ministers of education and other officials, responsible for public purchases, will be familiarized with Apple products. People participating in the event will stay in downtown London, and visit Apple Stores outside customer hours.
The controversy lies with the timing of the trip, since the Russian government is said to be preparing equipment modernization tenders worth up to 2 billion rubles ($66.5 million) per region. Russia's National Anti-Corruption Committee is arguing for an investigation, because if the officials' trips were financed by Apple that could be seen as undue influence, and even if the trips were paid for by regional governments, the Russian Audit Chamber may need to step in.
Apple tells Regnum that it paid for the trips of trainers, but not government officials. The company is heavily involved with the educational market; although most of its sales are to the general public, Macs are a staple of many Western schools, and are rapidly being joined by iPads.