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Now SEC piles into HP bribery probe

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HP is facing a widened bribery investigation by the Department of Justice and US financial regulators, a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reveals.

In its quarterly filing HP said that the US Department of Justice and the SEC were both investigating allegations of dubious dealing by the ink giant in Russia.

German and Russian authorities are already investigating a contract to provide a secure comms network to the Russian judiciary.

Investigators are looking for evidence that the company paid €8m in bribes in order to secure a €35m contract to provide Russian prosecutors with a secure communications system.

Last month the DoJ demanded documents relating to the deal from HP.

The latest filing said:

"Russia's GPO[General Prosecutor's Office] and Related Investigations. The German Public Prosecutor's Office ("German PPO") has been conducting an investigation into allegations that current and former employees of HP engaged in bribery, embezzlement and tax evasion relating to a transaction between Hewlett-Packard in Germany, a former subsidiary of HP, and the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office of the Russian Federation. The €35 million transaction, which was referred to as the Russian GPO deal, spanned 2001 to 2006 and was for the delivery and installation of an IT network.

The German PPO has recently requested information on several non-public sector transactions entered into by HP and its subsidiaries on or around 2006 involving one or more persons also involved in the Russia GPO deal.

The U.S. Department of Justice and the SEC have also been conducting an investigation into the Russia GPO deal and potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act ("FCPA"). Under the FCPA, a person or an entity could be subject to fines, civil penalties of up to $500,000 per violation and equitable remedies, including disgorgement and other injunctive relief.

In addition, criminal penalties could range from the greater of $2million per violation or twice the gross pecuniary gain or loss from the violation. The U.S. enforcement authorities have recently requested information from HP relating to certain governmental and quasi-governmental transactions in Russia and in the Commonwealth of Independent States subregion dating back to 2000.

HP said it was cooperating with the investigation. The full statement is here - Note 16. ®

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