Germany-headquartered business software firm SAP has once again been fined for bribery practices at its international business units.
It has agreed to pay over $220m to settle bribery charges involving government officials in Africa and Asia after an investigation by US regulators. In 2016, it was forced to pay out to settle US bribery charges related to its Panama, South America outfit.
Golf trips, shopping trips, visits to the US, and straight cash payments featured in the bribery charges brought. Bribes were recorded as legitimate business expenses.
According to the charges brought by the US Department of Justice and US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), from at least December 2014 through to December 2018, SAP employed third-party intermediaries and consultants in various schemes to make improper payments to government officials, in order to obtain and retain business in South Africa, Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania, and Ghana.
In addition, during the same period, there were allegations of bribery in Indonesia. On top of this, a SAP Azerbaijan employee is said to have provided improper gifts to a government official, in order to obtain and retain business in Azerbaijan in January 2022.
As SAP has shares listed in the US, regulators said they wanted to make sure its rivals, including the likes of US-headquartered firms Microsoft and Oracle in the business software space, were not put at a disadvantage in winning sales on the international market.
SAP said it had cooperated with investigators and had overhauled policies. The company said in a statement: "SAP remains vigilant in maintaining the highest standards of ethics and compliance." It sacked a number of staff after the bribery came to light.