September 13, 2012 -
A Paris court fined French aeronautics and defence group SAFRAN for bribing Nigerian public officials to win a national identity card contract.
The court found bribes helped the firm win a US$214 million contract to provide more than 70 million identity cards in the African country.
The trial addressed alleged offences committed by SAGEM, a former electronics firm that merged with SNECMA to form SAFRAN in 2005.
The charges stem from allegations by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo that in 2001, SAGEM executives paid Nigerian government officials bribes ranging from US$30,000 to US$500,000 to win the identity card contract.
Under French law, bribery of foreign officials is a criminal offence, but a report published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) noted that the French government lacked the resources to fight corruption in most large export contracts. As a result, the decision against SAFRAN is rare.
The Paris court fined SAFRAN US$630,000, but excused two of the company’s executives from wrongdoing.
SAFRAN owns the Morpho brand, which specializes in biometric technologies for government identification credenials and law enforcement applications.