Industrial giant Daimler, the company behind the Mercedes-Benz business, has pleaded guilty to corruption in America and faces a $185m (£121m) fine to settle the case.
The US Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission have been investigating the firm's business practices in Russia and elsewhere. Daimler officials were said to have given money and lavish gifts to help win contracts in countries including China, Russia, Thailand, Greece and Iraq.
The auto-to-aerospace firm has admitted to paying tens of millions of dollars in bribes to foreign officials in at least 22 countries. The company said it had now changed: "Today, we are a better and stronger company, and we will continue to do everything we can to maintain the highest compliance standards" said Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche.
The offences were committed between 1998 and 2008 by Daimler's subsidiary Export and Trade Finance, and by Mercedes-Benz Russia. The Justice Department said that by "using offshore bank accounts, third-party agents and deceptive pricing practices, these companies saw foreign bribery as a way of doing business."
Prosecutor John Darden added that Daimler had "showed excellent cooperation. The company has undertaken an effort to clean its own house. That reflects a serious change of mind on part of Daimler. This deserves credit."
In 2008, German industrial group Siemens paid $800m to settle a US investigation into bribes paid to government officials in Argentina, Bangladesh, Iraq and Venezuela.
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