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Panalpina fined millions in bribery case

A Switzerland-based freight company and five oil service companies have agreed to pay more than $156 million (SFr150 million) for their roles in paying bribes.

The United States Justice Department said on Thursday that Panalpina World Transport of Basel and its US subsidiary agreed to criminal fines of almost $70.6 million. In exchange authorities will defer any criminal prosecution against the company for three years.

It will also give up $11.3 million in profits as part of a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The service companies agreed to $86 million in criminal fines and to surrender portions of their profits.

Panalpina has admitted to paying $27 million in bribes to officials in Angola, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Russia and Turkmenistan from 2002-2007.

The money went to customs agents to facilitate imports on behalf of Panalpina customers like Shell and Zug-based Transocean among others. The Justice Department said the customers approved or condoned at least some of the payments while falsely recording others as business expenses.

Panalpina’s CEO, Monika Ribar stated on the company’s website that “the settlement of these claims marks the closing of an extremely burdensome chapter in Panalpina’s history and the end of a very demanding three-year effort to address and eliminate serious concerns. Now it is time for us to look to the future and to build on the strong and sustainable compliance culture we have put in place.”

Other corruption cases involving Switzerland-based companies remain open, the Justice Department said.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR