A former Argentine official has filed a $100 million lawsuit against Siemens (IW 100/34), accusing the company of conspiring to have him beaten up and harassed after he threatened to expose a bribery scheme.
The suit on behalf of Carlos Moran, who lives in Argentina, was filed last week at a district court in Miami, where Siemens has some corporate offices, his lawyer Roberto Zarco said.
Moran is a former investigator for Argentina's Comptroller General, a federal watchdog agency known by the Spanish acronym SIGEN.
He alleges that Siemens paid more than $100 million in bribes in the 1990s to win a $1 billion government contract to revamp Argentina's identity card system, a project that has since been scrapped.
He said he informed his bosses at SIGEN after uncovering the scheme, but that they approved the Siemens bid anyway and threatened to retaliate against him if he blew the whistle.
"When verbal threats to Moran proved to be inadequate to dissuade him... he was brutally attacked and beaten outside of his home," the complaint said.
The complaint alleges that Siemens Argentina conspired with his boss at SIGEN, Rafael Bielsa, to try to silence him so as not jeopardize its contract with the government.
"The assaults, threats and intimidation to which Moran has been victim include, but is not limited to, physical assaults at gunpoint, being run off the road, stalking, continuous harassing phone calls to his home, threats of kidnapping, and threats to burn down his home," the complaint said.
Zarco said "we are still waiting for a response from Siemens."
Officials at Siemens were not immediately available for comment.
Moran is seeking compensatory and punitive damages from Siemens "for the attempted extrajudicial killing, torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, crimes against humanity, and violations of the rights to life, liberty and security" of the plaintiff and his family.
The alleged incidents occurred between 2000 and 2001, but the attorney said that it was only in 2008 that his client was able to assemble all the relevant evidence to file suit. His attorney noted that in December 2008, Siemens agreed to pay one billion euros to the United States and Germany in connection with the scandal. hat step -- which Zarco said was tantamount to an admission of wrongdoing by the German multinational -- leaves Siemens open to legal action by his client, despite a 10-year limit on the allowed time to bring such lawsuits, the attorney said.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012