Siemens Corruption Scandal Deepens: New Allegations of Bribes to Saddam

Authorities in Germany have launched a new investigation into bribes paid to Saddam Hussein's regime by engineering giant Siemens. The German firm is already embroiled in a corruption scandal which has seriously tarnished its image.

Police stand outside a Siemens office in Munich after the company was raided in November 2006.
DPA

Police stand outside a Siemens office in Munich after the company was raided in November 2006.

Saddam Hussein may be dead, but he haunts the German engineering firm Siemens, which is already battling to contain fallout from its worst-ever corruption scandal. Now fresh allegations have surfaced of bribes paid to the Iraqi leader.

The public prosecutor's office in Nuremberg has launched a new investigation against the company over reported bribes to former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein under the United Nations' controversial oil-for-food program, according to a report Wednesday in the Financial Times Deutschland.

"The public prosecutor's office is investigating if Siemens possibly infringed laws governing foreign trade," a spokesperson told the newspaper.

According to the spokesperson, the authorities are investigating "a six-figure euro sum" which they suspect was illegally paid to Saddam Hussein's regime in exchange for contracts in Iraq. The investigation began as early as the start of November 2006, the spokesperson said.

The Nuremberg authorities said that the investigation is focusing on the Siemens divisions Medical Solutions, Power Generation, and Power Transmission and Distribution. Until now, ongoing investigations into corruption at Siemens have concentrated mainly on bribery allegations in the communications division, Com. The firm is suspected of maintaining secret slush funds for paying bribes to secure foreign contracts.

The United Nations' oil-for-food program was established in 1995. It allowed Iraq to sell oil in exchange for food and other essential goods, with the aim of providing humanitarian assistance to ordinary Iraqis.

The program, which ended in 2003, was allegedly plagued by corruption. A 2005 United Nations report listed the names of companies suspected of paying bribes to ex-dictator Saddam Hussein, including 63 German companies.

Until now, only foreign subsidiaries of Siemens have been suspected of involvement in the Iraq corruption scandal. Siemens is alleged to have used these firms to illegally pay around $1.6 million (€1.2 million) for contracts in Iraq.

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