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Member of Siemens board detained over bribes allegations

Johannes Feldmayer, a member of the main board of Siemens, was taken into custody Tuesday by police investigating allegations of bribery at the German electrical and engineering group.

While a former member of the executive board, Thomas Ganswindt, spent several days late last year in investigative custody, Feldmayer is the first current member of the Siemens group board to be taken into custody in the two-pronged inquiry. Despite the embarrassment to one of the bluest of Germany's blue- chip companies, the price of Siemens AG shares remained steady, with analysts saying stock investors were already aware of the allegations. A Siemens spokesman confirmed that Feldmayer, who is in charge of computing, procurement and real estate for the group, had been driven away by police conducting a search for evidence in Munich.

„We remain in favor of a thorough investigation and are cooperating with the public prosecutors,” the spokesman added. The search was led by prosecutors from the city of Nuremberg who have been studying why €14 million ($19 million) of Siemens funds were passed to AUB, a labour group which is reputed to be more docile than Germany's militant IG Metall trade union. Siemens had previously disclosed that Feldmayer signed the Siemens contract with AUB chief Wilhelm Schelsky, who was detained earlier. The Nuremberg prosecutors confirmed the detention and an investigation into possible misappropriation and tax offences, but declined to name Feldmayer.

That inquiry is separate from an investigation where Ganswindt was questioned over claims that Siemens salesmen pursuing orders for communications equipment had paid kickbacks to officials abroad in the form of „consultancy contracts” or gifts. Both prongs could potentially lead to indictments for misappropriating Siemens funds. Siemens auditors have said they have spotted „suspicious” payments totalling up to €420 million. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur)