Daimler paper trail leads to Mercedes-Benz office in İstanbul

April 05, 2010, Monday/ 16:39:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN
The Daimler corruption case at the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) dug up evidence of bribery by the automaker’s Mercedes-Benz arm in Turkey, with particularly revealing files discovered in İstanbul that show “useful payments” to secure business in the country.

According to a piece by German weekly magazine Der Spiegel on Sunday, the Mercedes-Benz office in İstanbul provided US prosecutors with ample evidence of bribes paid to secure business in the country and other nearby nations. The piece noted that the files discovered had the letters N.A., standing for nützliche aufwendungen, or useful payment. These letters, according to Der Spiegel, are a “very German way of saying bribes.”

The company is alleged to have paid 3.3 million euros in bribes to secure business in Turkey, North Korea, Latvia, Bulgaria, Romania and Russia. Daimler currently produces buses in Turkey under their Mercedes-Benz brand. Daimler is said to have violated German and international law for years for paying bribes in at least 22 countries.

According to the piece, the “useful payments” were made to people who may have helped get a leg up in the contract-awarding process. Such payments were legal in Germany until 1998 but were banned by law after US pressure in 1999. Because the files in İstanbul were discovered in 2006, the documents are very relevant to the SEC case.

Daimler is set to pay $185 million to settle the suit in the US; however, the entire case will cost the company more than 500 million euros after including the cost of years of private investigations into the matter.

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