A former Siemens AG executive pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring to pay tens of millions of dollars in bribes to Argentine government officials for a $1 billion contract to create national identity cards.
Eberhard Reichert, 78, appeared in federal court in Manhattan. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to violate the FCPA anti-bribery, internal controls and books and records provisions, and to commit wire fraud.
He was one of eight people charged in 2011 with FCPA offenses for the Argentina bribery scheme.
Reichert, a German citizen, worked for Siemens from 1964 to 2001 as an executive of Siemens Business Services.
He was arrested last year in Croatia and agreed to be extradited to the United States.
When he appeared in federal court in December, he pleaded not guilty and was released on bond of $500,000.
His trial was set to begin in July this year.
One of his co-defendants, Andrés Truppel, a former chief financial officer of Siemens Argentina, pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court in 2015.
Truppel, a dual citizen of Germany and Argentina, admitted that he and others paid nearly $1 million to a former official in Argentina’s Ministry of Justice.
As part of his plea, Truppel agreed to cooperate with authorities. He hasn’t been sentenced.
The DOJ’s John Cronan said in a statement Thursday: “Far too often, companies pay bribes as part of their business plan, upsetting what should be a level playing field and harming companies that play by the rules.”
In his plea, Reichert admitted to “a decade-long scheme to pay tens of millions of dollars in bribes” for the national ID card contract, worth more $1 billion to Siemens.
The judge Thursday didn’t set a sentencing date.
Reichert admitted using shell companies controlled by intermediaries “to disguise and launder the funds” for the Argentina bribes.
So far, he and Truppel are the only defendants from the so-called Siemens-8 to appear in U.S. court to face criminal charges. All were non-U.S. citizens living outside the United States.
Reichert’s March 15, 2018 plea agreement with the DOJ is here.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.