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Does ABB Have an Effective Compliance Program?

Zurich, Switzerland-based engineering giant ABB Ltd’s Q2 earnings release contained the following item:

On July 13, 2007, ABB disclosed to the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission suspect payments made by employees of company subsidiaries in Asia, South America and Europe, in particular Italy. These suspect payments were discovered as a result of ABB’s internal audit and compliance program. The payments may be in violation of the Foreign Companies (sic) Practices Act or other applicable laws. If ABB is found to have violated any of these laws, the company could be liable for penalties and other costs and the violations could otherwise negatively impact its business. ABB is cooperating on these issues with the relevant authorities and is continuing its internal investigations and compliance reviews.

In July 2004, ABB and two subsidiaries disgorged $5.9 million and paid a $10.5 million penalty for FCPA violations involving Nigeria, Angola and Kazakhstan.

That same month, ABB said:

ABB has undertaken an extensive compliance review of its upstream business . . . in full cooperation with the DoJ and the SEC. As part of the agreement with the U.S. authorities, both ABB and the upstream business will adopt enhanced compliance procedures intended to detect and prevent future violation of laws related to improper payments. (emphasis added)

Whether ABB has had an “effective compliance program” since 2004 is likely to be an issue now that new potential violations have been found.

ABB’s American Depositary Shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol: ABB.

View ABB’s July 26, 2007 Earnings Release here.

View the SEC’s July 6, 2004 Litigation Release here.

View ABB’s July 7, 2004 News Release here.

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