Daimler AG, parent company of Mercedes-Benz, has been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice with repeatedly violating bribery laws over the past decade, earning the company over $50 million in profit from government fleet sales worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Daimler “engaged in a long-standing practice of paying bribes to ‘foreign officials,’” according to the court documents filed by the DOJ. “In some cases, Daimler wired these improper payments to U.S. bank accounts or to the foreign bank accounts of U.S. shell companies in order to transmit the bribe.”
The charges refer specifically to deals with foreign governments for lucrative vehicle supply contracts. According to the DOJ, Daimler sent tens of millions of dollars in bribes to foreign officials to win contracts to supply their governments with vehicles. The deals were reportedly worth hundreds of millions of dollars, earning Daimler more than $50 million in pre-tax profits. The charges specifically cited deals with Russia, Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, and other countries.
The charges, which were filed in documents typically used in DOJ plea deals, include conspiracy and falsifying books and records, punishable under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. DOJ officials refused to comment, as did representatives of Daimler, who told Automotive News they would not comment until a U.S. District Court hearing in Washington, D.C. on April 1.