Criticized for corruption, Siemens continued to ignore red flags
In November 2010, having already been notified that he was fired, Liu emailed a statement to Waigel and the company’s compliance department explaining what he described as “the whole picture.” In it, Liu said he saw many compliance failures, including “one-off dealers [being employed] without process control / applicable authorization ”,“ ineffective middle management ”and“ unqualified distributors. . . approved despite the objection of [the] responsible for compliance.
The problem, Liu wrote, unfolded in stages. “Briefly, at the organizational level, compliance independence was first abandoned, followed by the seriousness of compliance shifted from ethics to revenue, and inevitably, compliance metamorphosed into complicity. “
It is not known if Waigel received Liu’s email and how he handled the email in his surveillance reports, thanks to the secrecy that he and Siemens insisted on to fight against their public release. Shortly after, he reported that “Siemens. . . works on the implementation of the 114 recommendations [from his first year report] in right time. In October 2011, after three years of evaluating Siemens’ compliance policy and procedures, Waigel concluded in its final work plan that the German company had “fully implemented all of its recommendations of the first year”.
Literally Waigel was right. The Observer had recommended a “review” of the company’s practices regarding resellers, which Siemens had indeed conducted. However, the spirit and intention behind the recommendation – to eliminate corrupt practices – seems to have been largely circumvented in favor of a more passive approach, consisting of only reacting after corrupt actors have been identified by external parties – such as Chinese courts.
Waigel, who now practices European competition law at a Munich law firm, declined to comment for the article, saying he could no longer remember the details of his surveillance. Nevertheless, in part because of his role, Waigel has since gained a reputation in Germany as a compliance troubleshooter for large international companies. In 2017 he was hired by European aviation giant Airbus to verify compliance standards, and in February 2021 he was appointed chairman of an expert committee for auditor Ernst & Young as a result of the recent Wirecard scandal, one of the most important cases ever recorded in Germany. corporate fraud.
Despite the assurance that the issues at Siemens have been resolved through a comprehensive compliance policy and new controls, How? ‘Or’ What exactly Siemens responded to these problems remains unclear. That’s because surveillance reports in settlements like this are kept under wraps by companies that broke the law and government agencies responsible for enforcing it, said Matt Kelly, editor of Radical Compliance.
Kelly pointed out how rare it was for even part of a monitor’s report to be made public. “In the 17 years that I have been doing this, I have only found one (other) surveillance report that has become public,” he said. “These are highly confidential documents.
For some compliance experts, the way the court system has handled Siemens ‘FCPA violations is suspect, especially in light of Siemens’ subsequent reputation, tarnished by the DOJ itself in its sentencing memorandum. of 2008, which praised Siemens’ “reorganization and remediation efforts” and claimed it had “set a high standard for other multinational companies to follow”.
“The DOJ frequently talks about transparency in the application of the FCPA, but when given the opportunity to be transparent it does the exact opposite,” said Mike Koehler, who runs Professor FCPA’s website and teaches in several law schools.
Koehler and other experts argue that the public and shareholders have a right to know whether a company’s business is fair.
In fact, transparency has been a mantra of the Department of Justice itself. In a 2015 speech on corporate compliance at NYU Law School, the head of the criminal division, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell, said, “More transparency benefits everyone. The criminal division would benefit from being more transparent, in part because if businesses know the benefits they are likely to gain from self-reporting or government investigation cooperation, we believe they will be more likely to reveal wrongdoing and to cooperate. “
Nonetheless, the Justice Department argued exactly the opposite in the Siemens case, alleging that the publication of surveillance reports “would reduce the amount and accuracy of information that the Department of Justice received from future surveillance, which which will ultimately inhibit the ability of the Department of Justice to reduce corporate crime ”. By opposing the release of its compliance reports, Siemens has argued, in part, that its anti-corruption measures constitute “trade secrets”, the disclosure of which could give Siemens’ competitors an advantage.
Faced with the apparent inaction of Siemens, the problem persisted. According to a recently released Chinese court verdict, the same year Waigel ended his surveillance, a Siemens business manager offered to pay a hospital president in Anhui district ¥ 2 million ($ 300,000). in exchange for help ensuring that Siemens products win the offers. . The president of the hospital who made the confession was found guilty of accepting bribes from 2004 to 2017.
Two years after Waigel’s oversight ended, Siemens China top sales manager exposed corruption among third-party resellers. In a 2013 email to dozens of senior Siemens China executives, director Cao Yong Sheng expressed his concerns. He claimed there was a “huge gap between bids and contracts” and asked, “Where is the gap going? “
Sheng, who had been fired for his own alleged corrupt actions, argued that Siemens was well aware that middlemen were overcharging the equipment, increasing the cost of bribes paid to hospital officials.
“It made us very uncomfortable and so worried,” he wrote.