BERLIN, Nov. 15, 2006 -- Offices of German engineering and electronics giant Siemens and the apartments of some of its top managers were raided Wednesday in a huge embezzlement probe.
In a press release posted on its Web site, Siemens said police and prosecutors searched about 30 Siemens locations in Munich and Erlangen and that "a still undetermined number of individual acts of fraud are suspected at the company's fixed-network business."
At issue, Siemens said, "is an amount in the low double-digit million euro range. A total of six former and current company employees are suspected in the case. Siemens is a witness."
Two hundred tax inspectors, police officers and investigating magistrates were searching sites at the company's headquarters in Munich and in other cities, Munich's chief prosecutor Anton Winkler had told several European news agencies earlier this morning.
Andreas Schwab, another spokesman for the Munich-based company, told CNN, "Certain Siemens employees have engaged in fraud." Schwab did not say if employees being investigated include any executives.
The Siemens spokesmen said the company is cooperating fully with the investigation.
Der Spiegel magazine said the investigation focused on suspicions that employees had used company money to pay bribes to win contracts. The money was channelled through foreign bank accounts, mainly in Switzerland, the magazine's online edition said.
Several corruption cases have surfaced at Siemens in recent years, for example regarding the attribution of contracts with Italian group Enel, Agence France-Presse (AFP) said today.
"The searches are more bad news for Siemens, which is under fire for its perceived role in the collapse of German mobile phone maker BenQ Mobile," the AFP reported.
Siemens said more details cannot be provided because the investigation is ongoing.
"Siemens would like to make it quite clear at this juncture that it is very interested in having the matter completely cleared up," it said. "In the context of this incident, Siemens would like to point out that it has business conduct guidelines that provide company-wide principles for conducting business that are mandatory for all employees. These guidelines include clear instructions for employees to obey the law and are a component of every employee contract."
For more information, visit: www.siemens.com