UPDATE 2-Russia searches HP offices at German request

* German prosecutors investigating bribery – WSJ

* Probe involves contract in Russia – WSJ
(Adds HP’s comment, paragraphs 4-7)

MOSCOW, April 14 (BestGrowthStock) – Russian prosecutors on
Wednesday raided the Moscow offices of top global PC maker
Hewlett-Packard Co (HPQ.N: ) at the behest of German
authorities.

The Wall Street Journal reported that German and Russian
authorities were looking into whether HP executives had paid
millions in bribes to win a 35 million euro contract in
Russia.

Citing unidentified people familiar with the matter, the
newspaper said prosecutors are investigating whether the
world’s largest maker of personal computers had tried to bribe
its way toward winning a contract to supply Russia’s criminal
prosecutors’ office.

HP, saying only that a probe was under way, would not
confirm specific charges but on Wednesday distanced itself from
any potential fallout as a result.

“This is an investigation of alleged conduct that occurred
almost seven years ago, largely by employees no longer with
HP,” the company said in a statement.

“We are cooperating fully with the German and Russian
authorities and will continue to conduct our own internal
investigation.”

The company did not elaborate.

According to the Journal, German prosecutors are looking
into whether HP officials paid about 8 million euros in bribes
to win a contract, under which the company sold computer
equipment to Russia’s office of the prosecutor general through
a German subsidiary.

“Investigative actions are being carried out as part of an
international legal assistance assignment that has come from
competent authorities in the Federal Republic of Germany,” the
investigative committee of the prosecutor generals’ office
said.

The prosecutor general’s office handles the country’s
criminal prosecutions — including many corruption cases, the
Journal added.

German authorities are investigating whether HP executives
funneled suspected bribes through a variety of shell companies
and accounts in a number of countries, the report said, citing
documents submitted to a German court.

The story also noted that the U.S. Securities and Exchange
Commission requires public companies to disclose important
investigations, but that HP has not reported the German probe
in its SEC filings.

“We are offering full support to the investigation by the
investigative committee,” said HP spokeswoman Olga Ekkert.

Penny Stocks

(Reporting by Anastasia Teterevleva in Moscow; additional
reporting by Gabriel Madway in San Francisco; Writing by Maria
Kiselyova and Dmitry Zhdannikov; Editing by Phil Berlowitz,
Gary Hill)

UPDATE 2-Russia searches HP offices at German request