SAP investigating its sales practices in Gulf region

Last month SAP revealed its South African sales commissions were being probed by U.S. regulators,

German business software giant SAP which last month said its South African sales commissions were being probed by U.S. regulators, has launched an investigation into its business practices in the Gulf region.

The company said one of its executives in the Gulf region had resigned and another was on administrative leave, without giving further details.

SAP operates in more than 180 countries, selling business planning software that many of the world's top multinationals rely on to manage their far-flung business operations. It is a big supplier of corporate compliance software.

A source familiar with the matter said the individuals referred to by SAP were Tayfun Topkoc, the company's country manager for the United Arab Emirates, and Oman country manager Przemek Oledzki - whose LinkedIn profile identifies him as chief of staff for the UAE, Iran and Oman region.

The source added SAP's investigations related to the company's dealings with Iran, which are overseen by its Gulf States offices in Dubai.

Topkoc and Oledzki did not immediately respond to requests for comment via their email and social media profiles.

"We are currently investigating business activities in the region," SAP told Reuters in a statement, without specifying whether the matter concerned Iran.

"SAP is committed to the highest standards of business ethics and we always strive to operate with transparency and integrity. Please understand that we cannot say more while the investigation is ongoing," it said.

Global compliance crackdown

Read more: SAP faces probe over kickback allegations

Last month, SAP promised to make sweeping changes to its sales practices around the world after the company revealed it was the subject of a U.S. corruption probe tied to its South African business.

A spokesman declined to comment on whether the issues in the Gulf had arisen after the company put in place additional compliance and due diligence controls worldwide on the use of sales agents and resellers to win SAP contracts.

In April, SAP warned customers and sales partners that U.S. sanctions continued to restrict its dealings with Iran and the sale of the company's software there.

Despite the lifting of some sanctions by the European Union and the United States in early 2016 following a multinational nuclear deal, severe penalties could result from violating the remaining U.S. sanctions, the company said at that time.

In October, an SAP board member told Reuters that an internal probe by the company had found faults in its compliance and due diligence controls on how it conducts sales in South Africa and in other countries.

In response, SAP said it no longer would pay sales commissions on public sector deals in nations where risks of corruption in government contract awards remained high, such as Brazil, China, India, Russia, Iran and South Africa.

Last year, SAP was fined US$3.9 million by U.S. securities regulators for failing to maintain internal controls to prevent a bribery scheme by a former sales executive who won lucrative contracts from the Panamanian government.

 (Reporting by Tom Arnold in Dubai and Eric Auchard in London; Editing by Greg Mahlich and Mark Potter)

 

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