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Siemens names new board member to fight corruption

Troubled German engineering giant Siemens said Monday it had created a board level position to fight corruption, one of three nominations aimed at restoring the group's tarnished reputation.

Siemens names new board member to fight corruption
Troubled German engineering giant Siemens said Monday it had created a board level position to fight corruption, one of three nominations aimed at restoring the group's tarnished reputation.

Peter Solmssen, 52, was hired away from the US group General Electric and will assume "overall responsibility for legal and compliance issues" on October 1, a Siemens statement said.

"This is a decisive step toward resolving the current problems at Siemens and reorienting the company," it quoted supervisory board chairman Gerhard Cromme as saying.

Siemens is carrying out an internal probe after it was suspected of trying to bribe key union officials to secure industrial peace and of establishing a massive slush-fund to obtain foreign contracts.

Some 400 million euros (550 million dollars) are alleged to have been used for bribes in telecommunications contracts.

German press reports have said the total amount involved could be nearly one billion euros however.

To underscore its determination to turn the page, Siemens also named Andreas Pohlmann, 49, as chief compliance officer under Solmssen.

Siemens' former anti-corruption manager Albrecht Schaefer, who did not sit on the management board, is sueing the group for his dismissal in early August.

He was fired after serving from 2004-2006 as its anti-corruption executive, for allegedly failing to inform the executive and supervisory boards duly and sufficiently about corruption in the company.

Schaefer's attorney has denied he had failed to keep the boards informed.

The affair has resulted in the resignation of former supervisory board chairman Heinrich von Pierer and former chief executive Klaus Kleinfeld.

The powerful US Securities and Exchange Commission is also investigating possible corruption at Siemens, which is subject to SEC control because it is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

The German conglomerate risks heavy fines if found in violaton of US laws, in addition to any judicial sanctions in Germany.

Both Solmssen, who is a US national, and Pohlmann have experience working for US companies, as does Hans Winters, 38, who is to be chief audit officer after giving up his partnership position with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

In addition to expertise on US corporate legal issues, Solmssen and Pohlmann have both worked with Siemens new president and chief executive Peter Loescher, who replaced Kleinfeld on July 1.

AFP
Last Mod: 19 Eylül 2007, 15:59
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