HP Admits To Bribery And Money Laundering, Pays $108M To Settle

If you picture an HP executive as a straight-laced person in a conservative suit, it’s time to shake up that image, because three HP subsidiaries--in Russia, Poland, and Mexico--have spent years bribing government officials in those respective countries to snag lucrative contracts.

"Hewlett-Packard subsidiaries created a slush fund for bribe payments...employed two sets of books to track bribe recipients, and used anonymous email accounts and prepaid mobile telephones to arrange covert meetings to hand over bags of cash," said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Bruce Swartz in a statement.

Securities and Exchange Commission
Securities and Exchange Commission (Credit: Wikipedia/AgnosticPreachersKid

In Russia, the HP subsidiary bribed the Russian federal prosecutor’s office with millions of dollars and swanky gifts that included expensive watches and “swimming pool technology” (whatever that means), according to Reuters. The aforementioned slush fund was created in Russia by way of the HP subsidiary buying back its own products at jacked-up prices.

HP paid at least one official at Poland’s national police agency some $600,000 over the course of several years to land tech contracts worth a reported $39.71 million, and the Mexico HP subsidiary greased the skids towards a deal with Mexico’s state-owned Pemex petroleum company with a $1.4 million bribe.

The SEC and the U.S. Justice Department have reached a settlement with HP for $108 million. To HP’s credit, "The misconduct described in the settlement was limited to a small number of people who are no longer employed by the company," stated HP executive VP and general counsel John Schultz.

Reportedly, the U.S. DoJ acknowledged that HP as a whole has cooperated fully and has taken strong actions to prevent such corruption from happening again at the company.