By Erin Geiger Smith
Feb 19 (Reuters) - A U.S. federal judge dismissed a
Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit on Tuesday against a
former Siemens AG executive who was accused of paying millions
of dollars in bribes in Argentina.
The SEC accused Herbert Steffen, 74, a German citizen, and
seven other former Siemens executives of paying $100 million in
bribes in Argentina, about a third of which were paid after
March 12, 2011, when the engineering and electronics
conglomerate became subject to U.S. securities laws.
The U.S. regulator said Steffen urged another executive to
bribe Argentine officials, but that executive did not agree to
pay the bribes until he spoke with "higher ups," according to
the decision by U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin.
The judge, who sits in the Manhattan federal court, wrote
that Steffen's role in the bribes was "tangential at best," and
not closely associated enough to do any harm in the United
States so she lacked jurisdiction.
The SEC's interest in ensuring that conduct like bribery is
punished will not be harmed by dismissing the suit, she wrote,
in part because the agency and the U.S. Department of Justice
have already obtained remedies from Siemens.
In December 2008, Siemens settled with the SEC, agreeing to
be disgorged of $350 million in wrongful profits.
It also separately settled with the Justice Department by
pleading guilty to violating sections of the U.S. Foreign
Corrupt Practices Act and paying $449 million in fines.
An SEC spokesman said the regulator was reviewing the
decision. Steffen's lawyer, Erich Schwartz, said his client was
pleased with the decision.
The civil case is U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission v.
Sharef et al, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of
New York, No. 11-09073.
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