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Daimler seen paying $185m settlement

By Pete Yost
Associated Press / March 24, 2010

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WASHINGTON — Car manufacturer Daimler AG will pay $185 million to settle criminal and civil investigations in which the company is accused of paying tens of millions of dollars in bribes to officials of at least 22 foreign governments over a decade, two people familiar with the deal said yesterday.

Filings in federal court in Washington said the German-based company and three of its subsidiaries engaged in the misconduct from 1998 to 2008 in countries that included China, Russia, Egypt, and Greece.

Daimler AG will avoid indictment when two of its subsidiaries enter guilty pleas in federal court April 1, according to the two people knowledgeable about the outcome of the five-year probe.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal still must go before a federal judge.

The settlement includes paying $93.6 million to the Justice Department and $91.4 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the two people said.

In New York, a Daimler spokesman, Han Tjan, said the company will not say anything about the case until the hearing April 1.

The payments allegedly were aimed at helping secure contracts with government customers for the purchase of Daimler vehicles valued at hundreds of millions of dollars.

Among the other countries in which Daimler AG allegedly made improper payments were Croatia, Hungary, Ivory Coast, Latvia, Nigeria, Russia, Serbia, Montenegro, Thailand, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

Daimler AG and three of its subsidiaries were charged with conspiracy and with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits improper payments to officials of other countries.