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Former Maxwell exec indicted for China bribes

A Swiss citizen who worked for California-based Maxwell Technologies Inc was indicted Tuesday for bribing officials at state-owned companies in China.

Alain Riedo was charged in San Diego with nine counts of violating the FCPA, conspiracy, falsifying records, and evading Maxwell’s internal controls.

He was the general manager of Maxwell’s Swiss subsidiary during the six-year conspiracy, the DOJ said, and left Maxwell in 2009.

He’s now at large, the DOJ said.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Riedo is now director of the Fribourg chapter of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Switzerland. The Journal said it wasn’t able to contact him.

In 2011, Maxwell Technologies paid $14.3 million to resolve FCPA violations.

The DOJ fined the company $8 million and gave it a three-year deferred prosecution agreement. Maxwell also agreed to pay the SEC $6.3 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest to resolve civil charges.

The energy-storage company admitted bribing officials at state-owned manufacturers of electric-utility infrastructure facilities in several China provinces.

Employees of some state-owned companeis are ‘foreign officials’ under the FCPA, according to the DOJ and SEC. Several trial courts have upheld that view. In an unrelated case, the issue is now on appeal in the 11th circuit appellate court in Miami

The DOJ said Tuesday Maxwell’s Swiss unit paid $2.8 million in bribes from 2002 through May 2009 for contracts that generated more than $15 million in revenues.

Riedo allegedly approved sales contracts with Chinese state-owned entities he knew were inflated by 20% to cover the bribes.

The extra money paid by the Chinese customers was sent by Riedo to bank accounts in China and Hong Kong controlled by an agent retained by Maxwell, according to the indictment. The agent then passed the bribes to individuals at the China companies.

The customers mentioned in the information charging Maxwell two years ago included Pinggao Group Co. Ltd. in Henan Province, New Northeast Electric Shenyang HV Switchgear Co., Ltd. in Liaoning Province, and Xi-an XD High Voltage Apparatus Co. in Shaanxi Province.


Richard L. Cassin is the Publisher and Editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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