Software company SAP will pay $220 million for bribery

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Global software giant SAP has agreed to pay more than $220m (£172m) to settle bribery allegations involving government officials around the world.

The money and gifts, usually channeled through outside business consultants, were intended to help win business in South Africa, Indonesia and elsewhere, according to US officials.

The schemes are expected to run from at least December 2014 to January 2022.

SAP said it cooperated with investigators and revised policies.

“SAP remains vigilant in maintaining the highest standards of ethics and compliance,” the company said in a statement.

Headquartered in Germany and with shares listed in the US, SAP is among the largest software companies in the world.

According to the US court documentsthe company's subsidiaries, which operate in five countries in Africa, Azerbaijan and Indonesia, are involved in bribery schemes, “repeatedly” violating company policies designed to protect against corruption.

In South Africa, he allegedly paid consultants millions in fees even though the work was not done, and financed trips to New York by government officials, including golf outings.

In Indonesia, he also financed shopping trips and restaurants and more explicit payments.

The Securities and Exchange Commission's order cites discussions on WhatsApp, including instructions: “Seventy million in fifty thousand notes … Bring an empty envelope.”

Officials said SAP — which was fined in Panama in 2016 for violating U.S. anti-bribery and anti-corruption laws — failed to put procedures in place to address the high risk of such problems, inaccurately recording bribes as legitimate business expenses.

The settlement includes a penalty of $118.8 million, according to the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, which cooperated with authorities in South Africa in the investigation and announced the settlement.

The fines were reduced from the maximum possible after SAP cooperated with investigators and began fining and firing employees involved in the payments.

“SAP has accepted responsibility for corrupt practices that harm honest businesses involved in global commerce,” said U.S. Attorney Jessica D. Aber for the Eastern District of Virginia.

“We will continue to vigorously prosecute cases of bribery to protect law-abiding domestic companies while participating in the international marketplace.”

The US has said it will drop criminal charges against the company after three years if SAP honors the announced deal.

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