For a number of years Daimler kept secret accounts used by executives specifically for the purpose of making illicit payments to foreign officials – a practice otherwise known as bribing. The "improper payments" were made primarily in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe from banks in those regions. The bribery itself wasn't Daimler's problem – the fired whistleblower and the U.S. Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission were.
Daimler auditor David J. Bazzetta said he complained about the irregular accounts and payments, and was fired for his actions. He took his case to federal court, as well as doing a bit of whispering to DOJ and SEC officials. That lead the DOJ to investigating whether Daimler contravened the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 by bribing government officials, which covers any company with operations in the U.S.
Daimler isn't the only company with slush funds, and Daimler isn't the only one to get caught – Siemens, BAE Systems, Dooney & Bourke and Willbros Group are huge fish to recently end up in the net. And like a few of those others, Daimler is ready to pay to settle the claims against it to the tune of $200 million. Neither the DOJ nor the SEC has stated that the case is closed yet, but if there's one thing we know now it's that crime doesn't pay. Or maybe that it pays double.
[Source: Bloomberg | Image: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images]