DaimlerChrysler Hit with Whistleblower Suit, SEC Investigation

A whistleblower complaint has prompted a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation of DaimlerChrysler AG, over possible violations of federal anti-bribery laws, the Associated Press reported.

"The investigation follows the filing of a whistleblower complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act by a former DaimlerChrysler employee whose employment was terminated earlier this year," the company said in its third-quarter earnings statement.

David Bazzetta, a former employee in the automaker's corporate auditing department who lives in Macomb County, Michigan, said in his complaint that he was fired in January after exposing secret bank accounts that were set aside to bribe government officials, the AP reported.

DaimlerChrysler's third-quarter statement did not specify a euro (dollar) figure on the company's potential exposure in the complaint, the AP reported.

Bazzetta's suit seeks reinstatement, back pay with interest, costs and attorney's fees. A company spokesman said the company had no comment on the suit, which chief financial officer Manfred Gentz said was “without merit” in a conference call on Thursday, the AP reported.

The SEC is basing its investigation on the 1977 Foreign and Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits U.S. companies from bribing foreign officials and requires controls compliance, the AP reported, citing Gentz and the earnings statement.

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