Russia: foreign firms sign anti-bribe initiative

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Some 50 foreign companies including Siemens and Mercedes signed Wednesday an initiative against paying bribes to Russia, the Russian-German Chamber of Commerce said in a statement.

"This is not just a symbolic act," the head of the chamber Michael Harms said, "our companies are adopting concrete mechanisms against daily-level forms of corruption".

"The signatories are imposing a 'zero tolerance' policy on their companies," he said, and they are also applying this to "collaborations with business partners to fight against bribes and corruption".

Mostly German companies signed the initiative, including industrial giant Siemens, the car-maker Mercedes, Deutsche Bank and the rail company Deutsche Bahn.

The initiative is presented as a "support" for the anti-corruption policy announced by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who has made the issue a priority for the country.

However, it comes as a number of corruption scandals have exploded in Russia in the past months, involving large foreign companies.

US computer giant Hewlett-Packard is suspected by Russia, Germany and the United States of paying millions of dollars in bribes seven years ago to win a contracts in Russia between 2000 and 2003.

© 2010 AFP

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