Swiss’ Sicpa convicted of corruption

THE Vaud-based security ink company SICPA has been ordered to pay 90.6 million US dollars (212.9bn/-), for the corporate criminal liability over the payment of bribes in various countries in the world.

SICPA has been doing business and applying for tenders in various countries including Tanzania.

SICPA is engaged with Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) and Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), in multi billion shillings contracts to ensure tax collection and compliance with standards.

The   judgment raises the question of integrity is it proper to entrust such a company with ensuring integrity of large chunk of taxes.

On April 27th, the Swiss Federal Prosecutor has ordered SICPA to pay such amount of money and a former sales manager of the company was also given a conditional prison sentence of 170 days.

According to a statement by office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, SICPA was “criminally liable” for failing to take all necessary and reasonable organisational precautions that “made it possible for employees of SICPA” to bribe foreign officials.

The prosecutor added that, SICPA sentenced to a fine of 90.6 million US dollars due to “identified organisational deficiencies,” that included weakness in corporate governance principles, risk management and compliance.

The Federal prosecutor had initiated corruption proceedings against SICPA, which specialises in security inks for currencies and documents, in 2015 following a request for legal assistance.

According to the statement, the investigation related to the payment of bribes in various countries, including Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia.

The former SICPA sales manager had made bribes to high officials in the Colombian and Venezualan markets between 2009 and 2011.

Furthermore, the suspicion of embezzlement and money laundering could not be substantiated. In 2021, the investigation was extended to include the company CEO.

The company has also been the target of several corruption investigations overseas. In 2021, the company paid CHFI 35 million to Brazilian authorities to end its legal problems and to keep doing business.

SICPA was founded in 1972 in Lausanne by Maurice Amon, to sell Swiss agricultural products, primarily milk and cream, after Amon invented a new type of milking grease that facilitated milking process.

Back in 2017, TRA launched an international invitation for a tender to supply, install and operate a system for electronic tax stamps. The programme was awarded to SICPA.

The electronic tax stamp system became operational in 2018, but there have been concerns about the cost of electric stamps for products from manufacturers and importers.

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