The first criminal trial in a huge bribery probe at German industrial giant Siemens has opened. One and a half years of investigations has been invested into setting an example, say prosecutors, and declaring that corporate corruption will not be tolerated.
Almost 300 suspects are under investigation, and the US and other foreign authorities are also taking action. Weilding the hatchet is senior public prosecutor Anton Winkler: “The message we want heard loud and clear is that in Germany, corruption and corruptibility will be chased down and punished. It’ll be punished abroad. According to international anti-corruption law, these are criminal offences, and today no-one can plead they didn’t know of slush funds or bribery, and that they weren’t punishable by law”.
The company, which is fully co-operating in the trial, says it has discovered over a billion euros of “unclear payments” up till now, and the market is expecting the light bulbs to electric trains group to be fined between one and two billion euros.
The trial is having to sift through a mountain of evidence, equivalent to five million sheets of A4 paper.