Millions of dollars in bribes, hired goons, torture, and secret pacts made in Miami: it sounds like the hacky elements of an spy paperback sold in airports. But according to a whistle-blower, it was all part of a very real plot involving Siemens AG and the Argentinean government.
In a lawsuit filed in Miami's federal courthouse, Carlos Moran says the German-based electronics giant targeted him for retribution after he exposed their bribery schemes in Argentina. Siemens and compromised Argentinean officials hired "mercenaries" to beat him senseless outside his home as punishment for investigating, he claims. They also threatened to kill him, kidnap him, and burn down his house.
"Moran repeatedly was punched and kicked about the head, rendering him unconscious and causing permanent damage to his vision and hearing," the lawsuit contends. "Moran heard his attackers repeatedly calling him a 'whistle-blower' in an obvious attempt to warn him against any further attempt to disclose the subject of his investigation."
Calls to Moran's lawyer and to Siemens seeking further comment were not returned.
Moran says the trouble began as a result of a billion-dollar contract Siemens was trying to win with the Argentinean government in 1996. The company poured more than $100 million in bribes to government officials, meeting them in Miami to exchange money for preference, he alleges. Those bribes also went to Moran's former boss at SIGEN, an independent watchdog group.
When Moran investigated the contract, he found irregularities that made him suspect corruption. But when he went to his boss at SIGEN, he was told not to interfere. When Moran threatened to go public, he was threatened with retaliation.
Those threats escalated into violence when Moran was attacked outside his home in Argentina by a gang of former paramilitary goons.
At least one part of Moran's story is true: Siemens' bribery scheme was exposed in a joint investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice. The company paid $1.6 billion in 2008 to settle the charges against them.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
But not everyone in Argentina involved in the scheme was outed by the DOJ, Moran says; thugs continued to threaten him with death and kidnapping to keep their names quiet.
Eventually, Moran resigned his position, but contends that the injuries and intimidation he suffered caused "irreparable damage."
To whit, he's now seeking $100 million of his own in damages.