Germany widens warship kickbacks inquiry at ThyssenKrupp

24th April 2008, Comments 0 comments

The company, which builds warships and submarines for world navies, has confirmed paying an African intermediary $22 million for "the usual commissions" but says there is no evidence of corruption.

Dusseldorf -- A German inquiry into alleged kickbacks for South African officials who placed an order for four new warships has widened, with 12 suspects identified, two of them serving executives at the ThyssenKrupp company, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

The company, which builds warships and submarines for world navies, has confirmed paying an African intermediary $22 million for "the usual commissions" but says there is no evidence of corruption.

Arno Neukirchen, business-crimes prosecutor in Dusseldorf, told DPA that the 12 suspected of paying bribes included nine current or former executives at ThyssenKrupp.

A spokesman for ThyssenKrupp Services, Gerhard Sperling, confirmed a report on the Stern website that two were current executives.

Stern quoted Neukirchen saying requests for help from prosecutors in South Africa and Switzerland had been fruitless, adding, "We don't know when or how the authorities in South Africa will answer."

Eight years ago South Africa ordered four ocean-going corvettes from the dockyards unit, now ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), to re-arm its navy. They have been delivered and are in service.

ThyssenKrupp says the "provisions" were openly reported in its taxable accounts. "We made no secret of it," said Sperling, adding there was "no evidence for the insinuations by the prosecutors."

The prosecutors say they are pursuing an out-of-court settlement with ThyssenKrupp and lawyers on an agreed fine.

The company has insisted it wishes to completely resolve the allegations and is cooperating with the prosecutors.

Since 1998, Germany has banned attempts to corrupt foreign officials.

DPA

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