The German authorities have confirmed they are continuing to investigate the role played by Ford in the alleged bribery of Russian officials at the port of St Petersburg between 2010 and 2012 – despite the carmaker’s lawyers issuing a statement recently rejecting all knowledge of the matter.
A spokesman for the Cologne Public Prosecutor’s Office confirmed to Automotive Logistics this week that its investigation into Ford’s role in the alleged scheme – in connection with which it was also investigating Deutsche Bahn subsidiary DB Schenker until the German logistics provider reached a settlement with it in October – was still in progress, stating that although it might ultimately come to a different conclusion, it still believed Ford was involved.
“We still suspect that Ford employees knew about this alleged bribery scheme or even helped to protect it,” he said.
In a statement provided to the Cologne Public Prosecutor’s Office in December, Ford’s lawyers rejected any knowledge of the alleged bribery, however. “They do not accept any blame or responsibility for any criminal act and they deny any knowledge of bribery,” confirmed the spokesman for the Public Prosecutor’s Office. “As a consequence, the investigation will continue.”
The investigation, which centres around allegations of routine bribing of Russian officials at the port in order to speed up the passage of automotive parts being moved by DB Schenker to Ford’s plant in the area, has been going since 2013. Ford was first informed it had become a suspect in the investigation in November 2015, said the spokesman.
A spokesman for the carmaker told Automotive Logistics: “We’re committed to legal compliance and business ethics in all of our operations around the globe, and we have cooperated fully with the relevant German authorities throughout the course of their investigation. Following a thorough investigation of the matter, we remain unaware of any violations committed by Ford or any of our employees in this particular matter.”
However, Ford’s spokesman declined to provide a copy of its recent statement to the German authorities or to comment on their decision to continue investigating it.
He also declined to say whether the carmaker acknowledged some form of bribery had ever taken place and also whether Ford still continued to use DB Schenker as a logistics provider in Russia.
At the time of writing, Deutsche Bahn had not responded to our requests to confirm its ongoing relationship with Ford in Russia.