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Business

German Prosecutors Mull Probe in UN Scandal

State prosecutors in the German city of Stuttgart are considering opening a formal probe against top German firms in light of corruption allegations in a report on the UN oil-for-food scandal in Iraq.

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The UN's oil-for-food program helped Iraqis with monthly rations

A spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office in the southwestern city said on Sunday that the 500-page UN report, which was published on Thursday, was being "actively studied" to determine whether the companies violated German law.

A committee led by former US central bank chief Paul Volcker found that more than 2,000 firms -- including German giants such as Siemens and DaimlerChrysler -- paid a total of 1.5 billion euros ($1.8 billion dollars) in kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's regime as Iraq abused a UN humanitarian aid program.

Siemens and related companies were alleged to have paid 1.3 million euros in illegal kickbacks -- charges the German electronics giant has denied. A company spokesman said that Siemens's own internal investigation found no evidence that it had authorized or was aware of any payments to Iraqi officials.

DaimlerChrysler declined to comment while investigations were ongoing.

Meanwhile German press reports said that medical equipment manufacturer Fresenius Medical Care had admitted "irregular" payments to Saddam Hussein's government. Anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International on Sunday demanded a criminal prosecution if executives were found to have made bribes.

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