By MARIMER MATOS
Courthouse News Service, September 17, 2012 (reposted)
MIAMI (CN) - Siemens sicced "mercenaries" to beat and torture a government worker who blew the whistle on its multimillion-dollar bribes to Argentine officials, in pursuit of a $1 billion government contract, the man claims in court.
Carlos Moran sued Siemens in Federal Court. Siemens' head office in Germany and its Argentine branch are the only defendants. Moran claims he worked as an investigator for SIGEN (Sindico General de la Nacion) "when he was brutally attacked by the mercenaries hired by Siemens Argentina."
(Síndico is a multipurpose noun which may be translated as attorney general, treasury, or trustee. In his complaint, Moran describes SIGEN as "an independent governing body of the internal control system within the Argentine government, charged with '... ensuring the implementation of principles of financial regularity, legality, economic, efficient and effective delivery and implementation of public resources.'" That language closely tracks SIGEN's description of itself in its Spanish-language Web page.)
"Siemens AG and Siemens Argentina were involved in an over ten-year long corruption scheme centered on securing a $1 billion government contract in connection with Argentina's National Identity Card Project," Moran says in the complaint. "As part of this scheme, defendants made over $100 million in illegal bribes to many high-level government officials, including Moran's former boss, Raphael Bielsa, the head of SIGEN, in exchange for a favorable advisory opinion on Siemens Argentina's contract proposal."
Siemens paid $1.6 billion to settle bribery corruption charges in this case, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The SEC and the Department of Justice then brought parallel charges against seven Siemens executives and former executives, in December 2011.
Moran says he recommended that Argentina reject Siemens' proposal to make the ID cards because he suspected the company was inundated with corruption, but his boss ignored his findings.
"Siemens Argentina was aware of Moran's review of the Siemens Argentina proposal and of his recommendations to Bielsa, specifically, that such proposal be rejected because of its apparent corruption of certain government officials," the complaint states.
"When Moran threatened to disclose the results of his review, including his suspicion of bribery of a number of Argentine government officials and the apparent bribery of Bielsa, he was threatened with retaliation by Bielsa if he persisted in such disclosure. When verbal threats to Moran proved to be inadequate to dissuade him from his disclosure, he was brutally attacked and beaten outside of his home. Moran repeatedly was punched and kicked about the head, rendering him unconscious and causing permanent damage to his vision and hearing. Prior to his losing consciousness, 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," the complaint states.
Moran claims Siemens' goon squad was made up former Montoneros, left-wing guerillas who were active in the 1960s and '70's, and a man who was an adviser to Argentina's former President Carlos Menem.
"Moran recognized some of his attackers, who were associated with the group, including an individual known to him as Rodolfo Galimberti, who was, at one time or another, in the employ of Siemens Argentina and was a close associate and advisor of Carlos Menem, the former president of Argentina," the complaint states.
"Galimberti, a known guerilla and former leader of the Montoneros criminal organization, is responsible for numerous accounts of urban violence, bombings and kidnappings, including the widely publicized kidnapping of billionaire Jorge Born, for which the Montoneros group received $60 million in ransom.
"Upon information and belief, Siemens Argentina was responsible for the retaliation against Moran by Galimberti whose attack upon Moran was for the purpose of silencing him as a result of his threatened disclosure of the result of his review of Siemens Argentina's proposal, and also to protect Bielsa, the head of SIGEN, from potential corruption charges and prosecution for his intentional concealment of the corruption of Argentine government officials in connection with the Siemens Argentina proposal.
"After the project was suspended and finally canceled on May 18, 2001 by Carlos Menem's successor, President Fernando De la Rua, Siemens AG and Siemens Argentina continued to bribe officials of the new government administration, including President de la Rua himself, in an effort to get the project back on line.
"These bribes were executed through several shell companies, set up as payment intermediaries, to funnel bribes to the government officials. These various companies were collectively known as the 'project group.' One of the companies involved was MFast, a company owned by the former Minister of Justice, which was set up to receive a $1 million bribe to influence the head of SIGEN, Bielsa, Moran's former boss, to recommend the approval of a revised contract between Siemens Argentina and the new administration of the Argentine government."
The meetings to negotiate the bribes took place in Miami, and some of the bribes were funneled through U.S. bank accounts, Moran says.
The complaint adds: "Despite Siemens Argentina's efforts, the contract was never reinitiated and, as a result, Siemens Argentina instituted an arbitration proceeding against the government of Argentina for breach of contract, seeking $550 million for lost profits and expenses for Argentina's alleged wrongful termination of the project.
"The pending arbitration proceeding presented another motivation for Siemens AG and Siemens Argentina to ensure that Moran did not expose the corrupt practices involved in securing the project as evidence of such corruption would provide a potential defense for the new government of Argentina in proceedings.
"After being threatened outside his home at gunpoint, Moran was forced to resign from his job at SIGEN in late 2001, in fear for his life and in fear for the lives of his wife and son."
"Moran had worked for SIEGEN and various other Argentine government compliance agencies for over 37 years but now as a result of erroneous and disparaging allegations by his former superiors, he is unemployable in any governmental capacity. In fact, Moran has been unable to secure permanent employment at all due to the permanent disabilities he sustained when he was brutally attacked by the mercenaries hired by Siemens Argentina.
"The assaults, threats, and intimidation to which Moran has been victim to include, but are not limited to, physical assaults at gunpoint, being run off the road, stalking, continuous harassing phone calls to his home, threats of kidnapping, and threats to burn down his home, including leaving incendiary devices and photographs and newspaper articles of homes burned down by fire outside his home.
"The years of physical and mental abuse have caused irreparable damage to Moran and his family. The constant fear in which Moran, wife and son have been forced to live has caused plaintiffs to suffer both physical and emotional injuries. As a result of the extreme violence he has witnessed and the fear he has endured, beginning at such a young age, Moran's son has developed a severe stuttering problem which he continues to receive therapy for to this day."
Morans seek more than $100 million in damages for attempted extrajudicial killing; torture; cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment; and crimes against humanity.
His counsel is Robert Zarco with Zarco Einhorn Salkowki & Barro.