Siemens gets cozy with Hugo Chávez’s revolution

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UPDATE: This post refers to a charge the SEC filed in December of 2008. My mistake. I’ll leave it up so people don’t think I’m covering my tracks.

The SEC has charged German technology giant Siemens with violating the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The charge is related to, among other shady dealings, the payment of bribes in the construction of Metro lines in Venezuela.

The actual complaint is online, and the Venezuela-related portion is between paragraphs 38 and 42.

The SEC complains Siemens paid $16.7 million in bribes to Venezuelan government officials for business related to the construction of the Valencia and Maracaibo metro systems.

The complaint mentions bank accounts in Panama and Miami that were used to make the payments. It talks about a portion of between $5 to $6 million being funneled to government officials (paragraph 39).

The money quote is in paragraph 40:

"Under the second scheme, Siemens paid over $6.8 million to four U.S.- based entities controlled by a longtime Siemens business consultant. Siemens called upon the consultant, known as a political "fixer" in Venezuela and who had been an advisor to former Venezuelan presidents, to ensure political support for the Maracaibo and Valencia projects and for Siemens’ role in them. Siemens made payments into the US. bank accounts of the four controlled entities pursuant to sham consulting agreements in return for no legitimate work. Bank records reveal payments to Venezuelan govemment officials and politically-connected individuals, including a high-ranking member of the central government, two prominent Venezuelan attorneys acting on behalf of government officials, a former Venezuelan defense minister and diplomat, and a relative of a local politician, all of whom had influence over these and other Siemens contracts in Venezuela."

My head is still spinning. "Advisor to former Venezuelan presidents"? "High-ranking member of the central government"?! "Prominent Venezuelan attorneys"?! "Former Venezuelan defense minister and diplomat"?! "Relative of a local politician"?!

So, IVth Republic operatives working with Vth Republic operatives to make a killing? I guess corruption is the one thing that still binds the nation together.

This should be interesting, but we shouldn’t expect any consequences for the Venezuelan government officials and lobbyists involved – although it would sure be nice to know names. We’ve grown accustomed to these scandals simply coming and going, with nobody paying a price.

But we’ll keep a watchful eye anyway.

(Hat tip: jota)

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