Daimler admits bribery charges and forks out $185m to settle case

MERCEDES-BENZ owner Daimler is to pay $185 million (£121m), after pleading guilty to corruption charges in the United States.

The charges relate to US justice department and Securities and Exchange Commission investigations into the luxury car-maker's global sales practices. It was found to have violated anti-bribery laws by showering foreign government officials with money and gifts to secure contracts.

Daimler will settle the charges, but it remains subject to a two-year deferred prosecution agreement and oversight by an independent monitor.

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The group's German and Russian operations each agreed to plead guilty to two counts of violating US anti-bribery laws. Its Chinese subsidiary will be subject to the two-year deferred prosecution agreement as well.

Former FBI director Louis Freeh will take the role of independent monitor.

The offences were committed over a ten-year period up to 2008 by the company's German-based exports subsidiary, Export and Trade Finance, and its Russian business, Mercedes-Benz Russia.

The car-maker has since sacked 45 employees implicated in the bribery, while chairman Dieter Zetsche said the firm had "learned a lot from past experience".

He added: "Today, we are a better and stronger company, and we will continue to do everything we can to maintain the highest compliance standards."

The case came to light after David Bazzetta, an auditor at DaimlerChrysler before the group split, filed a whistleblower complaint.