Russia dismisses several Customs officers over bribery allegations

The Russian government said it is cracking down on port and customs corruption by dismissing several St. Petersburg customs officials tied to a bribery investigation and beginning internal port inspections this month.

The action comes after German prosecutors in 2013 began investigating Ford Motor Co. and DB Schenker, a subsidiary of the German Deutsche Bahn railway company, on suspicion the duo paid St. Petersburg port and custom official’s bribes to get goods cleared faster through Russia’s largest container port. The $1 million in bribes were transferred to officials through banks in Switzerland and Cyprus, said a Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs spokesman.

The U.S Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has joined the investigation, a source said.

A Ford spokesman could not confirm or deny if SEC was investigating the carmaker that produces Focus and Modeo models at a St. Petersburg plant.

Deutsche Bahn said it has already dismissed staff related to the accusations and is investigating others employees.

Russia said it has dismissed several senior officials at the North-West Customs Administration, which serve the St. Petersburg port, and employees at Global Ports and FESCO, two large Russian container terminal operators. The government said it plans to file criminal charges against the fired officials.

Starting next month, the Russian government will begin inspections of ports and customs operations, particularly those in the Far East and on the Black Sea. The government plans to announce the results of its corruption investigation in early October 2016.


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