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Ford's German Offices Raided As a Result Of Bribe Allegations

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On: Tue, Dec 14, 2010 at 10:10AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford's German Offices Raided As a Result Of Bribe Allegations

“We have a warrant to search the premises.” That is a statement no one wants to ever hear. On Monday, that phrase was uttered at the offices of the Ford Motor Company’s assembly plant in Cologne, Germany. Police carried out a raid ordered by the Cologne prosecutor, Christina Pohlen. This latest action stems from an investigation launched in September concerning an alleged bribery scheme that is purported to involve several Ford staff members and suppliers.

100 police officers were called upon to carry out the searches. In a statement detailing the investigation, Ms. Pohlen pointed out that the auto maker itself was not the focus of the sweep, but rather individual workers who allegedly accepted bribes from contractors and other suppliers. As a testament to the severity of this case, the upper management at Ford’s European operations has been working with the prosecutor’s office to facilitate the investigation.

Not only were there raids on the motor company’s district offices, but also the homes of the primary suspects were searched. In total, there were 30 separate locations involved. The result was at least one person was arrested and is still in custody.

The investigation was started when a tip about bribery allegations was forwarded to the Cologne prosecutors from the German city of Saarbruecken, which happens to be located near one of the Ford Motor Company’s German assembly plants. The allegations concern Ford employees who are working in the facilities-management department. According to the tip, these employees were given “material benefits” from various suppliers who had contracts with the auto maker. There were also reported bribery incidents from other supplies who gave these benefits in the hopes of securing new business.

The payments were in exchange for preferential treatment or for fraudulently overcharging the Ford Motor Company for supplies.
As the investigation unfolded, it became apparent to the Ford Motor Company that these alleged bribes were costing the company several million Euros in overcharges. A Ford spokesman said the company intends to seek retribution from anyone who is found guilty of participating in the corruption scheme.

The company released an official statement which said in part that is has begun a total review of compliance processes to see where they might need to be enhanced. Ford has already started upgrading the process of implementing more controls and supervision.

The Cologne plant where the raid occurred is where Ford builds their Fiesta and Fusion models. It also houses the European headquarters' administrative offices.


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