German-based engineering company Bilfinger said this week that it an internal investigation has uncovered potential bribery payments made to government officials in Brazil for contracts related to the 2014 World Cup.

Bilfinger said it received internal information last year indicating potential compliance violations in connection with orders totaling approximately USD$6.5 million for the supply of monitors for security control centers at several World Cup venues in Brazil. The investigation centered on whether employees at Bilfinger Mauell, a subsidiary of Bilfinger, paid bribes to government officials in the country.

“The company immediately launched a comprehensive investigation,” Bilfinger said. “The allegation relates to suspected bribery payments from employees of a Bilfinger company in Brazil to public officials and employees of state companies.” As an initial step, Bilfinger said it commissioned auditors Ernst & Young, Deloitte, and a specialized law office in Brazil “to conduct a comprehensive securing of data in Germany and Brazil.”

“Suspicions have now been substantiated,” Bilfinger said. “The investigation, however, is not yet complete.” Specifically, the company said it is still looking into “to whom and in what amount payments were made. Should the accuracy of the allegations be confirmed, Bilfinger will take action with regard to personnel and will initiate legal steps.”

Bilfinger added that it has a compliance system that is in line with international standards and is reviewed and developed on an ongoing basis. The company pursues information on possible violations through its own investigations and notifies the relevant authorities.

Previous Settlement

As Compliance Week previously reported, Bilfinger in 2013 reached a $32 million settlement with the Department of Justice to resolve charges over violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The company's remedial actions earned it a deferred prosecution agreement.

According to court documents, from late 2003 through June 2005, Bilfinger conspired with pipeline construction company Willbros and others to pay more than $6 million in bribes to government officials of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to obtain and retain contracts related to a pipeline project. To cover the cost of the bribes, Bilfinger and Willbros formed a joint venture to bid on the Eastern Gas Gathering System (EGGS) project and inflated the price of the joint venture's bid by three percent.

As part of the settlement, the Justice Department agreed to defer prosecution of Bilfinger for three years, acknowledging Bilfinger's cooperation and remediation efforts.