IBM sued by SEC over alleged bribes in China, Korea

The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged IBM with bribing government officials in South Korea and China. The complaint said that IBM did not keep accurate records of the cash and other payments — categorizing them as legitimate expenses — and did not have sufficient controls to prevent or detect bribes to foreign officials.

IBM will pay $10 million to settle civil charges in the United States. It has not confirmed or denied the charges.

The SEC complaint alleges that, from 1998 to 2003, IBM employees of a joint South Korean venture, LG-IBM PC Co., Ltd., paid over $207,000 in cash to South Korean government officials. IBM employees reportedly gave the officials free personal computers, laptop computers and entertainment in order to secure the sale of IBM products.

One hundred employees of two IBM wholly-owned units in China also are accused of providing entertainment, overseas travel and improper gifts to Chinese government officials between 2004 and 2009.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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