by Wang Aihua, Liu Dan
BEIJING, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) -- Chinese legal experts said Monday there should be zero tolerance for corruption by multinationals in China, in the same way as in other countries.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released the latest legal filing on the bribery cases of German conglomerate Siemens, not only in the United States, but also in foreign countries including China.
Chen Zhiqing, a partner of a Shanghai-based law firm, said to Xinhua that China should investigate the alleged Siemens bribery in China based on the existing information exposed by other countries.
Chen, at the Jin Mao Law Firm, said China should more closely cooperate with the international community to curb corporate bribery.
According to the SEC's litigation release, the Munich-based company was involved in bribing government officials worldwide in return for business contracts. It was also accused of paying bribes on its transactions in China of metro trains, signaling devices, high voltage transmission lines, and medical devices.
China's Criminal Law rules that government employees who take bribes of more than 100,000 yuan (about 15,000 U.S. dollars) would be sentenced to over 10 years in prison and those who commit graver crimes might face life imprisonment or execution. For the most serious cases, guilty parties could face life in jail.
Han Dayuan, vice dean of the Beijing-based Renmin University Law School, said it might be more complicated to deal with corporate bribery cases, but "China surely has the right to exercise jurisdiction over such cases".
Siemens Ltd., China declined to comment on the specific allegations, but acknowledged that "Siemens has closed one of its most difficult chapters in its history."
In response to Xinhua's email interview, Siemens Ltd., China said, "We have no tolerance for illegal business practices and irresponsible behavior. We've learned our lessons: Only clean business is Siemens business."
After a long fight against the bribery allegations, Siemens agreed to pay under a U.S. court settlement a total of 800 million U.S. dollars to the SEC and the U.S. Department of Justice for making bribes and trying to falsify corporate books from 2001 to 2007.
Siemens last year was fined 201 million euros in Munich, Germany, for systematic bribing and kickbacks to secure contracts worldwide.
The 161-year-old German company, which employs about 475,000 people worldwide, has acknowledged that up to 1.4 billion euros may have been used illegally to win foreign contracts.