HP in more hot water

HP has just admitted that the US Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating allegations of more possible bribes. The allegations are that the maker of expensive printer ink, through a German subsidiary, paid bribes in Russia to secure a contract valued at $44.5 million.

The contract which ran from 2001 to 2006 was for the delivery and installation of an information technology network ironically in the Russian Prosecution Office.

US authorities joined in a German and Russian investigation. US authorities recently requested information about “certain governmental and quasi-governmental transactions in Russia and in the Commonwealth of Independent States subregion dating back to 2000.” If this is the case, points out the Wall Street Journal, then the investigation is bigger than what many expected.

An HP spokesperson said that investigators were focused “primarily” on the contract with the Russian prosecutor’s office but that they have “now expanded their investigations beyond that particular transaction.”

US companies are not allowed to bribe officials in foreign countries. 

German prosecutors spent two years looking into whether HP executives paid bribes to secure the contract with Russia’s prosecutor general. Russian investigators raided HP’s offices in Moscow in April, but given that HP is alleged to have bribed the prosecution service it is not clear how far that probe would go.