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Foxconn calls in the cops over supplier bribes claims

Employees sought payments from suppliers

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Manufacturing behemoth Foxconn has revealed it is working with police to investigate allegations of bribery against employees suspected of seeking illegal payments from supply chain partners.

The Taiwanese firm, which churns out kit for Apple, Samsung, Nokia, HP and others, made the revelations after an article appeared in local magazine Next Weekly quoting an unnamed source as saying a Foxconn executive in Shenzhen had been arrested on bribery charges.

The unnamed manager allegedly sought and received bribes from equipment manufacturers in return for purchasing their kit for use in Foxconn plants, according to AFP.

A statement from the company sent to The Reg said the following:

"We can confirm that we are working with law enforcement officials who we brought in to work with our own internal audit team as part of an investigation into allegations against a number of Foxconn employees related to illegal payments from supply chain partners.  Since the matter is under investigation, we are not able to comment further.  However, we can say that the integrity of our employees is something we take very seriously and any employees found guilty of any illegal actions or violations of our company’s Code of Conduct will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

The firm added that it is carrying out a review of its policies and practices with the aim of mitigating any such “illegal actions” in the future.

The news won't be welcome at Foxconn, given it continues to deal with perceptions of labour rights abuses at its plants in China. Staff riots and suicides have also been documented on various occasions at some facilities in the People’s Republic.

Despite continued publicity from NGOs like China Labor Watch which claim little has changed, Foxconn is in the middle of a long-term overhaul of operations at some of its plants after signing a “landmark deal” with Apple and the Fair Labor Association in March 2012.

Despite the bad publicity, most commentators agree that its pay and conditions are still better than most offered by tech manufacturers in China, although the bar is obviously pretty low by Western standards. ®

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