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Papers seized in rail corruption probe

Published on 16/03/2004

16 March 2004

BERLIN – German prosecutors have launched a corruption inquiry against the nation’s railways corporation, Deutsche Bahn, seizing documents in connection with a EUR 1.92 billion contract signed in 2002.

The contract to operate subsidized passenger services was awarded without tender by the state of Brandenburg to the railways during the tenure of state transport minister Hartmut Meyer, a Social Democrat.

Last September Meyer suddenly resigned. This month it was disclosed he was on the railways’ payroll as a consultant.

Police searched both the head office of Deutsche Bahn and the office of Meyer’s firm, Short Cut.

Deutsche Bahn said it was cooperating with the inquiry but was convinced no wrongdoing had taken place. Meyer could not be reached for comment. State officials said they also surrendered documents.

After other cases where retired politicians have taken money for “consultancy”, the term has become one of the dirty words of German politics. German management consultancy companies say this has devalued in the public mind all consultancy work.

Amid warnings from Berlin-based Transparency International that Germany ranks only midway up the table from most corrupt to least corrupt, prosecutors have beefed up efforts to detect kickbacks, where politicians are bribed to accept over-priced contracts.

Subject: German News