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Officials search HP office in Russia

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April 14, 2010 08:35 PM EST | AP

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SAN FRANCISCO — Russian authorities have searched a Hewlett-Packard Co. office in Moscow in what one news report said was a bribery investigation.

HP confirmed the search but wouldn't describe the reason for the investigation.

Russian prosecutors said in a statement the investigation was carried out at the request of German authorities but didn't elaborate.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, said the probe centers on whether HP representatives paid millions of dollars in bribes to win a contract to sell computer equipment through a German subsidiary to Russian prosecutors.

The newspaper said HP officials are believed to have paid $10.9 million in bribes to win a $47.8 million contract that was eventually signed in August of 2003.

"This is an investigation of alleged conduct that occurred almost seven years ago, largely by employees no longer with HP," HP said in a statement. "We are cooperating fully with the German and Russian authorities and will continue to conduct our own internal investigation."

HP, based in Palo Alto, Calif., is the world's No. 1 personal computer maker.