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Sharef of Siemens settles with SEC

Uriel Sharef, a former officer and board member of Siemens AG, settled civil FCPA charges with the SEC Tuesday.

He agreed to pay a $275,000 civil penalty, the second highest penalty assessed against an individual in an FCPA case, the SEC said.

The final judgment enjoins him from violating the anti-bribery and internal controls provisions of the FCPA.

He was charged for his role in Siemens’ decade-long bribery scheme to retain a $1 billion government contract to produce national identity cards for Argentine citizens.

Sharef is the second former Siemens executive to settle civil charges with the SEC.

In 2011, Bernd Regendantz agreed to pay a civil penalty of $40,000 to resolve FCPA violations.

In October last year, the SEC told a federal judge in New York City that it had reached agreement in principle with Sharef to settle his case.

Eight former Siemens employees and agents were also charged in a U.S. criminal indictment in 2011 with bribing government officials in Argentina. The indictment included conspiracy to violate the antibribery, books and records, and internal control provisions of the FCPA, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and substantive wire fraud.

Regendantz wasn’t charged in the criminal case.

The defendants are non-U.S. citizens and live outside the U.S. None have appeared in court to answer the criminal charges.

In February, a federal judge in New York City threw out the SEC’s civil FCPA enforcement action against one of the SEC defendants. 

Judge Shira Scheindlin said Herbert Steffen, a German citizen and former chief executive officer of Siemens SA Argentina, did not have minimum contacts with the United States necessary to subject him to the SEC’s personal jurisdiction.

Between 2001 and 2007, the U.S. charged, Sharef and other Siemens executives paid bribes to senior government officials in Argentina in connection with a government contract to provide national identity cards to all Argentine citizens.

The officials included two Argentine presidents and cabinet ministers in two presidential administrations.

‘Sharef met with payment intermediaries in the United States and agreed to pay $27 million in bribes to Argentine officials,’ the SEC said.

The SEC’s complaint said ‘$31.3 million of the $100 million in bribes paid were made after March 12, 2001, when Siemens became a U.S. issuer subject to U.S. securities laws.’

Sharef was a member of Siemens Managing Board, or “Vorstand,” during the bribery scheme, the SEC said. He was the most senior officer charged in the case.

Siemens’ settlement in December 2008 with the DOJ and SEC for $800 million is still the biggest FCPA case of all time.

Sharef settled the SEC charges without admitting or denying the allegations in the SEC’s complaint.

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The SEC’s Litigation Release No. 22676 (April 16, 2013) in Securities and Exchange Commission v. Uriel Sharef, et al., Civil Action No. 11-Civ.-09073 (S.D.N.Y.) (SAS) is here.

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