Deere says SEC finishes bribery probe, no charges planned

Russian operations have sparked other probes

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Deere, the world's largest farm and construction equipment maker, on Thursday said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has completed an investigation of the company and does not plan to pursue any enforcement action.

In August 2011, news media reported that Deere was the subject of an inquiry concerning alleged payments to foreign officials in Russia and surrounding countries. At that time, Deere said it had received a request from the SEC that the company produce documents related to its activities, and those of third parties, in certain foreign countries.

The investigation looked into whether the payments ran afoul of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a 1977 law that bars companies from paying bribes to foreign officials.

Deere said on Thursday said it fully cooperated with the SEC during the investigation and was pleased with the conclusion of the probe.

Moline, Ill.-based Deere, with more than 50,000 employees, has plants in Iowa and is the state’s largest manufacturing employer. The company has said it sees long-term growth potential in Russia, which has 9 percent of the world's arable land and is one of the world's top producers of wheat.

A number of companies, including Siemens AG and Hewlett Packard, have faced similar probes into their operations in Russia in recent years. Siemens, which admitted to engaging in widespread bribery overseas, paid $1.6 billion in global settlement to resolve those allegations and others.

In 2008, the Justice Department and SEC charged agricultural machinery company AGCO with paying kickbacks to the government of Iraq in return for contracts with the country's Ministry of Agriculture. AGCO agreed to pay about $20 million to settle the case.

The Justice Department and the SEC have brokered multimillion-dollar settlements with Johnson & Johnson, International Business Machines and Tyson Foods.

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