Thursday, December 18, 2008

Siemens Corporation a German firm, fined $1.3 billion by USA

The German (Deutschland) corporation, Siemens, a electronics engineering firm is charged by the United States Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for violating a 1977 USA law. The law bans corrupt practices in foreign business dealings.

This is a German company accused of bribing foreign companies and government officials to gain business deals, none of which took place in the United States of America (USA). Yet the company agreed to pay the fine! Huh? Well this law, U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act FCPA, was passed by a Democratic Congress in 1977 and signed into law by Democrat President Jimmy Carter. One of the provisions of the law makes this law applicable to any company exchanging their shares on a U.S. stock market. Apparently Siemens trades their stocks on a U.S. stock market.

When European nations had colonial empires, some enacted something called extraterritorial rights. Meaning when the citizens of the mother country traveled throughout the empire, they enjoyed the laws of the mother country rather than those of the colony they were visiting. The FCPA act seems to smack of this in a rather perverse interpretation.

Yet while the Congress made bribing in another country a violation of U.S. law, it is legal to bribe Congress via the lobbyist system.

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