Judge Tosses Corruption Suit Against Siemens

Wall Street Journal | July 29, 2011; By Joe Palazzolo

„A federal judge in Miami dismissed a lawsuit by a former government investigator in Argentina who says he was brutally beaten after threatening to expose a bribery scheme involving Argentine officials and engineering giant Siemens AG. Carlos Moran Hidalgo and his family alleged in their January lawsuit that Siemens and its Argentina unit conspired with the Argentine government to bribe Moran’s former boss, the head of a watchdog agency, to ignore evidence of a corrupt $1 billion contact.

Moran filed claims under the Alien Tort Claims Act, the Torture Victims Protection Act and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Seitz dismissed the suit Thursday, saying Moran and his wife Celina Liliana Moran, who live in Buenos Aires, failed to serve Siemens with a summons after she had granted them multiple time extensions. The Morans’ Miami-based lawyer quit in March, citing a lack of cooperation.

More than a decade ago, when Moran was an investigator at the Sindico General De La Nacion, he was tasked with reviewing a proposed $1 billion government contract with Siemens to revamp the country’s dated identity-card system.

According to the lawsuit, Moran uncovered evidence of bribes and kickbacks in the deal and took them to his boss, who blessed the contract anyway and threatened to retaliate if Moran disclosed his findings.

When Moran continued to press the issue, he was attacked in front of his home, according to the lawsuit. He was punched and kicked about the head, rendering him unconscious and causing permanent damage to his vision and hearing, he said.

His attackers repeatedly called him “whistleblower” as they beat him, according to the lawsuit. Moran claimed one of them was an employee of Siemens Argentina.

In 2008, Siemens Argentina pleaded guilty to falsifying its books and records to disguise $31 million in corrupt payments to Argentine officials, in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The payments were made in connection with the identity card project, which was ultimately abandoned.

A Siemens spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.“

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