Ex-Siemens execs charged over $100m bribery scheme

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Ex-Siemens execs charged over $100m bribery scheme

Bribes ballooned to cover up scandal.

Eight former top-level Siemens AG executives have been charged with a US$100 million bribery scheme aimed at securing Argentina's $1 billion national identity card project. 

The defendents included former Siemens AG board member, Uriel Sharef, and two former chiefs of its Argentian subsidiary.

According to indictment documents returned on Monday to a court in New York related, the eight accused began paying bribes to the Argentinian Government in 1994 to auomate the country's national ID card production.

The bribes initially paid off, with a Siemens subsidiary winning the project in 1998, only for the project to be suspended a year later as the country faced a national election.

More bribes were allegedly paid aimed at reviving the project when a new government took power in 1999.  

Over more than a decade the accused allegedly funneled $100 million out of Siemen's German headquarters via 17 offshore shell companies that were used to distribute the funds to officials. 

In one case $10 million was driven across the Swiss border to be distributed to recipients through the nation's secretive banking system. 

When the program was terminated in 2001, members of the conspiracy allegedly caused Siemens to file a fraudulent arbitration claim against Argentina in Washington DC, where it sought $500 million in compensation for lost profits and wrongful termination. 

According to the indictment, tens of millions in bribes kept flowing during the arbitration, between 2002 and 2007, to conceal the conspiracy and to ensure Siemens stayed in the running for future contracts. 

The alleged conspirators appeared to get away with the cover-up after Siemens was awarded $220 million on its claims in 2007.

However in 2008 Siemens AG and its Argentinian subsidiary pled guilty to fraud charges under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and agreed to pay a $449 million fine.

In 2009, under new management, Siemens declined to accept the $220 million previously awarded to it. 

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