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DaimlerChrysler Finds Improper Payments

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) _ Automaker DaimlerChrysler AG said Monday that an internal investigation of bribery claims found evidence of ``improper payments'' in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. It said several employees had been dismissed or suspended.

The company disclosed the findings in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday.

The German-American automaker is still under investigation by the SEC and the Department of Justice over whether it violated U.S. anti-bribery laws.

``We have determined that improper payments were made in a number of jurisdictions, primarily in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe,'' the company said in its filing. ``These payments raise concerns under the U.S. FCPA, German law, and the laws of other jurisdictions.''

``In connection with our internal investigation, we have identified and self-reported potential tax liabilities to tax authorities in several jurisdictions,'' it added. ``These tax liabilities of DaimlerChrysler AG and certain foreign affiliates result from misclassifications of, or the failure to record, commissions and other payments and expenses.''

The filing did not specify how many employees were dismissed or suspended, and did not identify them.

The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prohibits the payment of bribes to foreign officials.

DaimlerChrysler disclosed the investigation last year in a similar filing with the SEC.

The U.S. Justice Department said in August 2005 that it was investigating whether DaimlerChrysler had paid bribes to foreign officials with the knowledge of its senior executives. The company said it is continuing to cooperate with the investigations.

That criminal investigation is tied to an inquiry opened in 2004 by the SEC after an employee fired by the automaker said he was dismissed for complaining that the company was using secret bank accounts to bribe government officials.

DaimlerChrysler said then, and reiterated Monday, that it was cooperating with the investigations, sharing with both agencies information from its internal probe.

Company spokesman Thomas Froehlich told The Associated Press that both Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche and Chief Financial Officer Bodo Uebber had taken steps to ensure the company operates in a transparent and ethical manner.

``(They) are very much committed to taking action,'' he said.

The filing also said that because of the bribery claims, the company ``recognized charges in our 2005 consolidated statement of income to correct misstatements relating to the years 2003 and 2004 which had the effect of reducing 2005 operating profit by 16 million euros and reducing 2005 net income by 64 million euros.''
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