Archer Daniels Midland’s (ADM), whose takeover of Australia’s Graincorp recently was blocked by Treasurer Joe Hockey, this week agreed to pay $54.3m to resolve civil and criminal charges that a subsidiary bribed government officials in Ukraine in return for tax refunds. The Financial Times reports that the deal with US authorities ends an embarrassing chapter for the company, which has sought to polish its image after pleading guilty in a high-profile price-fixing scandal in the 1990s. US authorities accused Alfred C Toepfer International, a Hamburg-based subsidiary, of paying $22m to Ukrainian officials to recover more than $100m in unpaid tax refunds.
In one scheme, Toepfer made payments to a shipping company in the port of Odessa for artificially inflated invoices, a piece of which was passed as bribes to Ukrainian officials, the US Securities and Exchange Commission alleged. One set of disbursements was disguised “as prepayments for feed barley”, its complaint said.
In another, the company drafted fake contracts with an insurance company that included false premiums that were paid to Ukraine officials.
Toepfer’s Ukraine office pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA and agreed to pay $17.8m in criminal fines, the Department of Justice said Friday.