Switzerland fines engineering giant ABB $4.3 million over bribery

Swedish-Swiss engineering giant ABB has been fined four million Swiss francs ($4.3 million) over bribery linked to the construction of a huge power plant in South Africa, Switzerland announced on Friday.

The attorney general’s office said ABB Management Services, which is headquartered in Switzerland, admitted not taking “all necessary and reasonable provisions” to prevent bribery payments to officials in South Africa.

“Various ABB employees set up from 2013 on a bribery scheme in order to obtain orders, through excessive payments to subcontractors, for the construction of a coal-fired power plant in South Africa,” the attorney general’s office said.

Construction near Johannesburg of the Kusile power station, the fourth largest coal-fired generator in the world, has been fraught with allegations of graft. South Africa’s struggling power utility Eskom commissioned the plant in 2007.

“ABB South Africa received orders for a value of at least $200 million with bribery payments of at least 1.3 million Swiss francs,” the attorney general’s office said.

As a result, it said ABB had been slapped with a fine of four million Swiss francs and ordered the group to pay 50,000 Swiss francs for the cost of proceedings.

The firm has already made a compensation payment of $104 million in South Africa, the attorney general’s office said.

On Thursday, South African prosecutors announced that ABB would pay more than 2.5 billion rand ($144,000) in “punitive reparations” to South Africa over “criminal conduct” at Eskom.

Switzerland said the US justice department and Securities and Exchange Commission were also expected to resolve with ABB on Friday.

In October eight people, including former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko, were arrested on corruption charges linked to a multi-million-dollar contract with the Swedish-Swiss firm. — Agence France-Presse

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