SAP to pay $220m over bribery charges

SAP to pay $220m over bribery charges

The global software giant has agreed to pay the hefty fine to settle charges involving government officials around the world.

Published on 15th January 2024

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

The money and gifts, typically routed via outside business consultants, were intended to help win business in South Africa, Indonesia and elsewhere, according to US officials.

The schemes allegedly operated from at least December 2014 until January 2022.

SAP said it had cooperated with investigators and overhauled policies.

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

SAP, which is headquartered in Germany and has shares listed in the US, is among the world’s largest software companies.

According to US court documents, subsidiaries of the firm in operating in five countries in Africa, Azerbaijan and Indonesia engaged in bribery schemes, “repeatedly” breaking company policies that were intended to guard against corruption.

Golf, shopping and dining

In South Africa, it allegedly paid millions in fees to consultants, despite no work being performed, and funded trips to New York for government officials, including golf outings.

In Indonesia, it also funded shopping excursions and dining, as well as making more explicit payments.

The Securities and Exchange Commission order cites WhatsApp discussions including the instructions: “Seventy million, in fifty thousand bills…Bring empty envelope”.

Officials said SAP – which was punished for violating US laws against bribery and corruption in Panama in 2016 – had failed to institute processes to address the high risk of such issues, inaccurately recording the bribes as legitimate business expenses.

The settlement includes a $118.8m criminal fine, according to the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission, which worked with authorities in South Africa on the investigation and announced the deal.

Penalties were reduced from the maximum possible after SAP cooperated with investigators and moved to punish and fire employees involved in the payments.

“SAP has accepted responsibility for corrupt practices that hurt honest businesses engaging in global commerce,” said US Attorney Jessica D. Aber for the Eastern District of Virginia.

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

The US said it would drop the criminal charges against the firm after three years if SAP complies with the announced agreement.


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