HP pays $55m to settle US overcharging and bribery claims

HP has agreed to pay $55m to settle a US Department of Justice (DoJ) investigation into claims the supplier overcharged the government on multiple federal...

HP has agreed to pay $55m to settle a US Department of Justice (DoJ) investigation into claims the supplier overcharged...

the government on multiple federal contracts.

The supplier exploited the government's trust that it would act with honesty to provide accurate, complete and current cost and/or pricing data, the DoJ said in its complaint.

The figure is $8m more than the settlement reported in August, but also settles claims that HP paid kickbacks, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The DoJ joined the second claim in 2007 that was first filed in 2004 by two whistle-blowers who accused HP of paying kickbacks to government consultants.

"HP denies engaging in any illegal conduct in connection with these matters," the company said in a statement.

"We believe it is in the best interest of our stakeholders to resolve the matter and move beyond this issue," the statement said.

UK Bribery Act

UK companies should note that the Bribery Act, which is due to become law in April 2011, creates a criminal offence of failure to prevent bribery, said law firm Ashurst.

Once in force, UK companies will have to show they have put in place adequate procedures to prevent bribery, said Crowley Woodford, partner at Ashurst.

"A key issue for employers will be where does corporate hospitality stop and bribery begin," he said.

Since April 2010, if whistle-blowers are involved - as in the HP case - claims will be raised automatically with the appropriate statutory regulators, said Woodford.

"Tactically this substantially raises the stakes for UK employers faced with a whistle-blowing claim, whether or not its allegations are spurious," he said.



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