WASHINGTON—The former chief financial officer (CFO) of Siemens S.A.—Argentina (Siemens Argentina) pleaded guilty today to conspiring to pay tens of millions of dollars in bribes to Argentine government officials to secure, implement and enforce a $1 billion contract to create national identity cards.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York and Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington, D.C. Field Office made the announcement.
Andres Truppel, 61, of Argentina, pleaded guilty today in the Southern District of New York to conspiring to violate the anti-bribery, internal controls and books and records provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA); and to commit wire fraud.
In 1998, the government of Argentina awarded to a subsidiary of Siemens Aktiengesellschaft (Siemens AG) a contract worth approximately $1 billion to create state-of-the-art national identity cards (the Documento Nacional de Identidad or DNI project). The Argentine government terminated the DNI project in 2001.
In connection with his guilty plea, Truppel admitted that he engaged in a decade-long scheme to pay tens of millions of dollars in bribes to Argentine government officials in connection with the DNI project, which was worth more than $1 billion to Siemens. Truppel admitted that he and his co-conspirators concealed the illicit payments through various means, including using shell companies associated with intermediaries to disguise and launder the funds, and by paying $7.4 million as part of a hedging contract with a foreign currency company incorporated in the Bahamas.
In addition, Truppel admitted that he and his co-conspirators paid nearly $1 million to a former official in Argentina’s Ministry of Justice that was used to bribe an Argentine government official.
Truppel also admitted that he used a $27 million contract between a Siemens entity and a company called MFast Consulting AG that purported to be for consulting services to conceal bribes to Argentine officials.
In 2008, Siemens Aktiengesellschaft (Siemens AG), a German entity, pleaded guilty to violating the books and records provisions of the FCPA; Siemens Argentina pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the books and records provisions of the FCPA; and Siemens Bangladesh Limited and Siemens S.A.—Venezuela each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery and books and records provisions of the FCPA. As part of the plea agreements, the Siemens companies paid a total of $450 million in criminal fines. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also brought a civil case against Siemens AG alleging that it violated the anti-bribery, books and records and internal controls provisions of the FCPA. In resolving the SEC case, Siemens AG paid $350 million in disgorgement of wrongful profits. The Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office also resolved similar charges with Siemens AG that resulted in a fine of $800 million. In August 2009, following these corporate resolutions with U.S. and German authorities, Siemens AG withdrew its claim to the more than $200 million arbitration award.
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Tarek J. Helou of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Niketh Velamoor of the Southern District of New York. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, the SEC and the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office also provided significant assistance.
Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.