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Siemens scandal inquiry finds $1.3 bln in bribes

Debevoise & Plimpton, the US law firm that presently screens Siemens financial transactions, has found that the bribery scandal at the German conglomerate is far bigger than previously believed. According to a report by German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, payments of “far more than” $1.37 billion have probably been spent for bribery.

Former Siemens CEO Klaus Kleinfeld had hired Debevoise & Plimpton last November to conduct a comprehensive investigation. The auditors have made significant progress: While hitherto the sum used for bribery was estimated at an already breathtaking $572 million, Debevoise & Plimpton investigators now found that the telecommunications arm alone had spend some $1.2 billion in bribes. Besides the telecommunications unit, the power plant unit was also found to have been very generous in spending money for orders. Debevoise & Plimpton lawyers found what is presumed to be illicit earnings amounting to $340 million to $408 million.

In the energy business, investigation by public prosecutors in Germany and Italy two years ago had found that Siemens used a widely ramified network of front companies, mostly in Liechtenstein and the United Arab Emirates. In this context, a court in Darmstadt, Germany had convicted two former Siemens managers in May 2007. Some payments had been made in the 1990s yet, the paper writes, adding that some of the felonies may already be beyond prosecution. (