A few days ago the BBC reported that, officially, Russia was losing 1 trillion rubles (that’s about $32.5b to you) due to corruption. Also coming 154th on the corruption perceptions index does not help matters, either. “Gigantic sums of money are being pocketed by officials and dishonest businessmen,” said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, “Deal with them and put them in prison – there is no other way out.” So it sounds like President Medvedev is serious about dealing with corruption. He starts with a foreign company with deep pockets: Daimler. Again?
A few months ago, our resident German wrote about how Russia was sniffing around Daimler after the US Government shook down Daimler for $185m. Well, that sniffing has turned into a something more substantial. The Financial Times reports that Russian prosecutors have launched a fully.fledged criminal investigation into alleged bribery of officials by Daimler. Daimler said it would co-operate fully with the authorities.
What will make this investigation even tougher for Daimler is the fact that Daimler’s Russian unit already pleaded guilty to two counts of violating US anti-bribery laws. So now the prosecutors know that Daimler’s Russian division isn’t adverse to a spot of palm-greasing. While this investigation was greeted with cheers from anti-corruption campaigners, some remained a little more cynical. “We hope this will be a real investigation,” said Yuli Nisevich (via The Washington Post), chief researcher at the Moscow office of Transparency International, “and not an imitation of an investigation”.
How much do you think a Russian judge would cost?