Diebold Inc. has been fined by the Securities & Exchange Commission for allegedly bribing officials at government-owned banks in China and Indonesia to buy the firm's ATMs.
The North Canton, Ohio, company has agreed to pay $48 million to settle the charges, the SEC said in an Oct. 22 announcement.
SEC charged the firm under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act which bars U.S. firms from bribing officials in foreign nations, among other things
According to court documents filed by the regulator, Diebold's bribes were often in the form of free trips to popular tourist destinations in the U.S., including the Grand Canyon, Napa Valley, Disneyland, and Universal Studios as well as Las Vegas, New York City, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Hawaii.
The regulator also charged officials were treated to European vacations, such as eight officials from a Chinese bank who took a two-week trip at Diebold’s expense that included stays in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Cologne, Frankfurt, Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, Klagenfurt, Venice, Florence and Rome. Destinations of leisure trips for other officials included Australia, New Zealand and Bali.
All told, the SEC charged Diebold spent $1.8 million on the bribes and then entered them on its books in a way that was meant to hide the expenditures, the SEC said.
“A bribe is a bribe, whether it’s a stack of cash or an all-expense-paid trip to Europe,” said Scott W. Friestad, an associate director in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “Public companies must be held accountable when they break the law to influence government officials with improper payments or gifts.”