HP suspected of bribery after Russian raid

Hewlett-Packard's Moscow offices were raided by Russian investigators on Wednesday after a request from German authorities. German prosecutors suspect that HP executives paid €8 million ($10.9 million) to the office of the prosecutor general of the Russian Federation through a German subsidiary for a €35 million contract to supply secure communications products. 

HP confirmed through a spokeswoman that a company office in Russia was searched, saying the allegations were of "conduct that occurred almost seven years ago, largely by employees no longer with HP. We are cooperating fully with the German and Russian authorities." She also stated the company was conducting its own internal investigation. 

The Wall Street Journal reports the company is suspected by German authorities of creating a series of shell companies with payments going through the UK, US, Switzerland, New Zealand, British Virgin Islands, Latvia, Austria and Lithuania. The information comes from documents submitted to a German court and unspecified documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. 

It is believed HP became aware of the investigation in December when the company was issued search warrants that named 10 suspects by the German and Swiss authorities. 

A spokesman for the German prosecutor's office in Dresden said the investigation included allegations of breach of trust, tax evasion, money laundering and the possibility money was taken from the company to create a slush fund. 

Investigators are looking through thousands of pages of documents and 3,000 emails which were related to the equipment deal which dates as far back as August 1, 2003. German authorities have received international assistance in attempting to trace the alleged €8 million bribe but are yet to identify the recipients of the funds. 

HP cannot be charged under German criminal law as only living persons can be, however illegal profits can be seized if the corporation was the beneficiary of a crime.

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