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14 May 2013

IBM Says U.S. Justice Investigating Bribery Allegations

International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) is being probed 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, 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. It’s not uncommon for global companies to face FCPA reviews -- Anheuser-Busch InBev NV said in March that its India joint venture was being investigated by the SEC for violations of the act. 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 Armonk, New York-based company said in the filing.

In March 2011, the company said it had agreed to pay $10 million to settle with the SEC over allegations that it bribed officials to win at least $54 million in government contracts. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, who has had the case under review, said he won’t accept the deal without a requirement that IBM report any future law enforcement or administrative probes to the court.