IBM to Pay $10 Million in Foreign Bribery Dispute


The Justice Department got another notch in its anti-bribery belt Friday.  IBM Corp.

agreed to pay $10 million to settle SEC claims it bribed officials in South Korea and China between 1998 and 2009 to win business. 

The action is part of the Obama Administration’s increased focus on corporate bribery in foreign countries.  The DOJ announced in January that it recovered $1 billion in penalties in Fiscal Year 2010 as a result of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement.

IBM did not admit or deny guilt.  The Securities and Exchange Commission had accused IBM employees of paying cash bribes and giving improper gifts and paying for travel and entertainment expenses for South Korean government officials between 1998 and 2003. 

In addition, the SEC accused two IBM-owned subsidiaries in China of a “widespread practice” of providing overseas trips, entertainment and gifts for Chinese government officials between 2004 and 2009.  The SEC asserted violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

IBM agreed to disgorge $5.3 million, plus $2.7 million interest and pay a $2 million civil penalty.  The complaint was released Friday, March 18.

Case: SEC v. IBM Corp. No. 11-cv-563 (Dist. Ct. DC)

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