Siemens executives given prison terms for bribery

20th November 2008, Comments 0 comments

According to prosecutors, bribes worth 1.3 billion euros by Siemens executives undermined democracy in the world.

Munich -- Two former executives at the German multinational Siemens were sentenced prison terms on Wednesday for assisting in a 1.3 billion euro (1.6 billion dollar) worldwide web of bribery.

The men, 58 and 69, had admitted assisting misappropriation and corruption at the two day trial in Munich. Commercial bribes were paid in various nations including Russia.

Siemens, whose products range from turbines and telecoms exchanges to trams, is struggling to re-establish itself as a graft-free company after the scandal.

Judge Peter Noll sentenced the 58 year old to two years in prison and a fine of 12,000 euros on 75 charges. The other received nine months on two charges and was told to pay 20,000 euros to charity. Their prison terms were suspended.

A second trial involving the scams and a third trial, dealing with secret Siemens payments to a pro-business labour leader, Wilhelm Schelsky, 60, was under way on Wednesday in Nuremberg.

Judge Noll, who in July gave a suspended two-year term to their former boss, said witnesses had given the impression they did not think they were doing anything morally wrong.

"You have the feeling we are fighting against windmills with these trials," he said.

Juliette Stuhlfelder, prosecutor, said the bribery had not only sullied Siemen's reputation and brought the prospect of enormous fines for the company, but also undermined democracy in the world.

"Powerful regimes [have] accumulated even more power through this money," she told the court.

The Siemens system employed slush funds to hide the expenditure from auditors and "consultancy contracts" for foreign "helpers" as a cover-up for the illicit payments.

Noll said the two defendants that paid the bribes did so under the authority of their superiors, who "took advantage of their junior's obedience."

Siemens has admitted that its staff corruptly spent 1.3 billion euros to win orders in nations including Italy and Greece. It has set aside 1 billion euros for possible fines in Germany and the United States.


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