Corruption case dropped against Siemens exec

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A court in Germany dropped Thursday a case against the most senior executive to stand trial over a huge scandal at Siemens, one of the biggest in the country's corporate history.

The Munich court said it was dropping the case against former board member Thomas Ganswindt because of insufficient evidence to support charges of tax evasion and failure to notice improper practices in areas under his control.

Ganswindt, 50, who used to run the industrial giant's telecoms division, has however been ordered to pay 175,000 euros ($250,000) to five charities as a condition for having the case dropped, the court in southern Germany said in a statement.

Siemens, which employs some 400,000 people, was hit in 2006 by a huge scandal that saw it admit to paying around 1.3 billion euros in bribes to land lucrative contracts over a period of several years.

The revelations forced the departure of a string of senior management including Heinrich von Pierer, the 160-year-old firm's supervisory board chairman and one of Germany's best-known corporate figures.

The engineering and electronics giant agreed to pay nearly one billion euros to US and German authorities in 2008, and some 20 former directors later agreed to settle damages claims with payments of around 20 million euros.

Ganswindt and former finance chief Heinz-Joachim Neubuerger refused however to pay damages of five million euros and 15 million euros respectively, prompting Siemens to launch legal proceedings against them.

© 2011 AFP

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