Following an in-depth investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, Daimler AG '” the parent company of Mercedes-Benz and former partner in the infamous DaimlerChrysler "merger of equals" '” has agreed to pay $185 million in fines to avoid indictment on bribery charges.
The short story here is that Daimler and three subsidiaries were allegedly involved in a systematic campaign to bribe foreign officials during the years 1998-2008, with a goal of getting government contracts worth, according to the Associated Press, hundreds of millions of dollars. Also per the AP, this included using bribes to get business through the Iraqi "oil-for-food" program and obtain lucrative government purchase agreements in more than 20 other countries.
Reports indicate that Daimler will pay about $90 million to the Justice Department, which claimed the company violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and approximately the same amount to the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission, which initiated a similar civil action against Daimler.
Although full details won't come out until the proposed settlement deal goes to federal court in April, most believe Daimler itself will avoid prosecution by having two of the subsidiaries involved in the scandal plead guilty at that time.
The long-running investigation of Daimler improprieties had previously led the automaker to fire and reprimand a number of executives in the mid-2000s, and, at this stage, it's unclear if there will be further repercussions from the scandal.