SEC Joins German Investigation of Ford Port Bribery Allegation

Posted by at 1:24 pm on August 18, 2015

Ford LogoThe United States’ securities watchdog is helping German prosecutors to investigate the alleged payment of bribes by Ford Motor to speed the passage of containers through Russian customs, a Ford source said.

Ford and Schenker, the freight business of state-owned German rail company Deutsche Bahn, have been under investigation in Germany since 2013 over suspected bribery and other offenses related to the busy Russian port of St. Petersburg.

The port is Russia’s European gateway with more than 2,000 companies using it for shipments, according to its website, but it is also known among customers for notoriously long delays.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has now joined investigations by prosecutors in Cologne, where Ford’s European headquarters are based, a source at the carmaker told Reuters, confirming a report in today’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

Two Ford employees, eight current and former workers at Schenker and one staffer from a Russian contractor are under investigation, a spokesman at the Cologne prosecutor’s office said. He said that he could neither confirm nor deny that the SEC is now aiding the investigation.

Ford last year cut 700 jobs at its plant near St. Petersburg as it grappled with Russia’s deteriorating economy and a weak rouble. The plant produces the Focus compact and Mondeo midsize models.

Berlin-based Deutsche Bahn said it has already dismissed members of staff over the allegations and is continuing internal investigations of several other employees.

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