Biggest Bribery Fines of 2024

Posted by

Emmeline de Chazal

on 08 May 2024

While the quantity of fines issued has been low in 2024 so far, the weight of the penalties has been heavy, reaching well into the millions. Find out why.

bribery fines 2024

While the quantity of fines issued has been low in 2024 so far, the weight of the penalties has been heavy, reaching well into the millions. Find out why.

By understanding the behaviour that drove these fines and settlements, hopefully, your company can avoid the same fate!

Key bribery fines & settlements in 2024

  1. Gunvor S.A. - £661m fine
  2. SAP - $222m settlement

Whilst companies face multi-million settlement penalties, the consequences for individuals can include jail time.

We track bribery fines and settlements continuously; find out more in our posts about the biggest bribery fines of 2020, 2021, 2022 and the latest bribery fines of 2023.

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Biggest bribery fines in 2024 in detail

1. Gunvor S.A. - £661m fine

Gunvor S.A. (Gunvor), a Swiss commodities trading company, has pleaded guilty and will pay over $661 million to settle a U.S. Justice Department investigation into breaching the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The company bribed Ecuadorean officials to secure business with Petroecuador, the state-owned oil company. Gunvor pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges, agreeing to pay a criminal penalty of $374.56 million and forfeit $287.14 million. Switzerland also resolved its probe, with Gunvor paying $98 million.

Gunvor's bribery scheme spanned nearly a decade, involving payments to intermediaries who bribed Ecuadorean officials, including a high-ranking Petroecuador official. These bribes secured advantageous contracts for Gunvor, bypassing competitive bidding and yielding over $384 million in profits.

The company cooperated with the investigation, earning credit for providing evidence and facilitating the process. The resolution highlights the global effort to combat corruption and holds both corporations and individuals accountable for bribery.

2. SAP - $700m settlement

SAP, the German software company, has agreed to pay approximately $222 million to settle bribery investigations across seven countries. The U.S. Department of Justice announced that SAP entered a three-year deferred prosecution agreement to settle criminal charges of conspiring to bribe government officials in Indonesia and South Africa.

Additionally, SAP reached a civil settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission regarding similar alleged bribery schemes in Azerbaijan, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, and Tanzania, as well as Indonesia and South Africa.

"[The company] has accepted responsibility for corrupt practices that hurt honest businesses engaging in global commerce,"

- Jessica Aber, U.S. Attorney

The settlement includes a $118.8 million criminal fine and $103.4 million of forfeiture. SAP welcomed the settlements and stated it had severed ties with those responsible over five years ago. The company's compliance-related investigations in the United States and South Africa have concluded with these agreements.

The alleged bribery schemes occurred between 2013 and 2022 and involved falsifying SAP's books and records to make the bribes appear as legitimate business expenses. Notable instances include SAP South Africa funding government officials' trips to New York in 2015 to secure a contract with the city of Johannesburg and an SAP Indonesia executive allegedly discussing bribes with an intermediary.

The Justice Department credited SAP for enhancing its compliance measures, internal controls, and cooperation with the probe, which began after misconduct allegations surfaced in South African media in 2017.

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Key takeaways for companies

  • Report any knowledge or suspicion of active bribery via your company's whistleblowing channels.
  • Implement compliance programmes: Establishing robust compliance programmes is essential to prevent bribery and corruption. These programmess should include clear policies, regular training for employees, and mechanisms for reporting suspicious activities.
  • Conduct due diligence: Conducting thorough due diligence on business partners, suppliers, and third-party intermediaries can help identify potential bribery risks before entering into business relationships.
  • Ensure transparency: Maintaining transparency in business dealings is vital. Companies should accurately record all transactions and expenses to ensure compliance with anti-bribery laws.
  • Have a suitable Gifts and Entertainment Policy in place so that everyone is clear on what is and is not acceptable.

    By internalising these lessons and implementing effective anti-bribery measures, companies can mitigate the risk of costly fines, reputational damage, and legal consequences associated with bribery and corruption.

Biggest individual bribery prosecutions in 2024

  1. Marwan Chedid & George Salibi - fine amount pending

The consequences for individuals guilty of bribery and corruption are severe, with penalties that could include time in prison.

1. Marwan Chedid & George Salibi - fine amount pending

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has brought charges against two former executives of Petrofac, Marwan Chedid and George Salibi, for bribery. According to the SFO, they are accused of offering and paying agents over $30 million to secure contracts worth approximately $3.3 billion for Petrofac between 2012 and 2018.

The executives, previously based in the United Arab Emirates, are scheduled to appear at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court to face the charges.

Key takeaways for individuals

Individuals can also draw important compliance lessons from bribery fines, whether they're employees, executives, or stakeholders within an organisation.

  • Ethical decision-making: Individuals should prioritise ethical decision-making, even when faced with pressure or incentives to engage in bribery or corruption. Understanding and upholding ethical principles in business dealings can help individuals avoid legal and ethical violations that may result in fines and penalties.
  • Awareness of anti-bribery laws: Educating oneself about anti-bribery laws and regulations applicable to the industry and geographic locations in which they operate is crucial. Individuals should be aware of the legal frameworks, such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in the United States or the UK Bribery Act, and understand their responsibilities to comply with these laws.
  • Whistleblower protections: Individuals should be aware of whistleblower protections and mechanisms available within their organisation or through external channels. Reporting suspected bribery or corruption internally can help prevent illegal activities and protect both the individual and the company from potential legal consequences.
  • Personal accountability: Individuals must understand their personal accountability for their actions and decisions within the organisation. Even if pressured by superiors or peers to engage in bribery, individuals should recognise their responsibility to adhere to ethical standards and comply with anti-bribery laws. Remember, bribery is a crime! Taking a stand against bribery and corruption, even at personal cost, can help prevent legal liability and uphold integrity in business practices.
    Anti-bribery Training Tips

Want to learn more about anti-bribery compliance?

We have created a comprehensive bribery & corruption roadmap to help you navigate the compliance landscape, supported by several financial crime prevention courses in our Compliance Essentials Library.

We also have 100+ free compliance training aids, including assessments, best practice guides, checklists, desk aids, eBooks, games, posters, training presentations and even e-learning modules!

Finally, the SkillcastConnect community provides a unique opportunity to network with other compliance professionals in a vendor-free environment, priority access to our free online learning portal and other exclusive benefits.

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It will help you to prevent and resist bribery more effectively and comply with the UK Bribery Act.

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