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Siemens, SK Engineering win U.S. appeal in Pemex bribery case

By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday upheld the dismissal of a $500 million lawsuit by state-owned Mexican oil company Pemex [PEMX.UL] accusing Siemens AG and SK Engineering & Construction Co Ltd [SKEC.UL] of bribing Pemex officials to secure oil refinery projects in Mexico.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled that Pemex's claims against Siemens and SK Engineering were "simply insufficient" to support bringing a lawsuit in U.S. courts under federal racketeering laws over alleged non-domestic conduct.

"The activities involved in the alleged scheme–falsifying the invoices, the bribes, the approval of the false invoices–took place outside of the United States," the three-judge panel wrote.

Lawyers for Pemex, Siemens and SK Engineering either did not immediately respond to requests for comment or declined comment.

In a lawsuit filed in 2012, Pemex accused Germany's Siemens and South Korea's SK Engineering of paying the Mexican company's officials to approve overrun and expense payments in the course of an oil refinery rehabilitation project.

The alleged scheme stemmed from the defendants' management of Conproca SA de CV [CONPR.UL], a Mexican joint-venture between Siemens and SK that was created to bid for the state oil company's refinery contract.

The lawsuit came four years after Siemens agreed to pay a record $1.6 billion to U.S. and European authorities in 2008 to resolve allegations of paying bribes around the world, from Iraq to Argentina.

As part of the settlement, Siemens pleaded guilty to U.S. criminal charges.

The case is Petroleos Mexicanos, et al, v. SK Engineering & Construction Co, Ltd, et al, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 13-3175.

(Editing by Noeleen Walder and Marguerita Choy)

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