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Today’s must-read: UTStarcom settles bribery case

Submitted by on 1, January 4, 2010 – 5:50 amNo Comment

In case you missed it, a few days ago San Francisco Chronicle legal eagle Bob Egelko wrote that Alameda-based networking equipment maker UTStarcom ended 2009 by settling a government-filed civil case that it bribed officials in China and other Asian countries for $3 million. The company has admitted no wrongdoing, he wrote.

According to Egelko, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil suit saying company officials paid nearly $7 million for 225 trips taken by employees of its customers between 2002 and 2007 that were reported as training trips but often took place in tourist destinations. The company also offered jobs in the U.S. to 10 government employees or their relatives in China or Thailand, the suit claimed, and paid them for work they didn’t do.

The company also ran up other expenses that included $4 million for programs its customers attended at American universities that were unrelated to the company’s business, and nearly $23,000 on French wine and entertainment in an effort to win a contract with a company controlled by the Thai government, Egelko wrote.

The company does most of its business in China and recently hired a new chief financial officer in China who will work from there. Company officials did not speak with The Chronicle, but the SEC said UTStarcom has adopted new policies and training in order to improve compliance with American bribery laws, the paper reported.

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