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Business

Former Siemens CEO Will Not Face Criminal Charges

German public prosecutors said on Friday they had called off a criminal inquiry against a former chief executive of Siemens, the electrical giant struggling to shake off a history of winning contracts by kickbacks.

Heinrich von Pierer addressing the audience during a conference

Until recently, Pierer served as technology advisor to German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Prosecutors in Munich said there was no adequate evidence that Heinrich von Pierer, formerly one of Germany's most powerful executives and an advisor to Chancellor Angela Merkel, had committed any crime.

But a formal inquiry was being opened into whether he and other chief officers had committed any misdemeanour, which is a minor offence punishable by a fine, by failing in their duty to supervise the company's affairs.

German law required executives to put "practicable organizational measures" in place to prevent crime, they added.

Widespread corruption

Pierer, 67, left Siemens after revelations that sales executives used slush funds to bribe officials in Greece, Italy and other nations to purchase Siemens telecommunications gear or machinery.

Leaked allegations in recent weeks had suggested Pierer may have been warned about the irregularities at the time.

The decision in Munich was the conclusion of a preliminary inquiry that followed an interview by prosecutors with Pierer on April 18.

Prosecutors said they would not disclose any other details.

Preventing repeats

The new chief executive of Siemens, Peter Loescher, said in a news interview released on Friday that the company had set up a system of checks to prevent any repeats and to punish any offenders.

"One can never rule out individual crookedness," Loescher told news magazine Focus. "But we have a system in place that makes broad-based misdeeds on the past scale impossible in the future."

Siemens employs around 400,000 people around the world and makes a broad range of products including household appliances, medical equipment, trains, turbines and power stations.

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