International Business Machines is being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department over corruption allegations in Poland, Argentina, Bangladesh and Ukraine, adding to bribery charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Justice Department is investigating whether IBM violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the company said in an April 30 filing. In Poland, the department is focusing on a transaction that the Polish Central Anti-Corruption Bureau already was studying, the company said. It involves allegations of a former IBM employee selling to the Polish government.
The Justice Department probe adds scrutiny in new territory as IBM tries to settle with the SEC over activity in China and South Korea. The global reach of the investigation indicates that this isn’t an isolated matter, said Charles Elson, corporate-governance professor at the University of Delaware.
“If it happens in one country, you can say it’s an individual,” Elson said. “If it happens in multiple, you have to ask, is it systemic? And how well was the compliance program put in place to prevent it?”
Most Read Business Stories
- Google puts lid on cookie jar and ends an internet era | Commentary
- MacKenzie Scott marries Seattle teacher after Bezos divorce
- Bill to limit evictions in Washington state advances
- FAA safety engineer goes public to slam the agency's oversight of Boeing's 737 MAX
- Microsoft attack blamed on China goes global, with 60,000 victims
It’s not uncommon for global companies to face FCPA reviews. Still, the probes can rankle investors. Shares of Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s Macau unit dropped in March after the parent company said it probably violated the FCPA.
IBM is cooperating with the investigations, the company said in the filing.
Ed Barbini, an IBM spokesman, said last Thursday in an email that the company has a “robust and effective compliance program.”
“While we will not comment on the specifics of this investigation, it is noteworthy that many such investigations result in no findings of wrongdoing,” Barbini said. “However, if it turns out that our Business Conduct Guidelines have been violated then we will address it promptly and effectively.”