Prosecutors in Germany have opened a corruption investigation into truck making giant MAN which is suspected of paying millions in bribes to sell and lease its vehicles.
State prosecutors in Munich said MAN AG is suspected of systematically paying millions in bribes both in and outside Germany in exchange for deals to sell and lease its trucks and buses.
"A system for procuring sales of trucks and buses existed in the country," lead prosecutor Manfred Noetzel told reporters.
He added that there is evidence that foreign officials and companies also received payments in return for business.
Investigators searched the company's offices, its truck and bus divisions as well as three private homes.
MAN, which has Volkswagen as its dominant shareholder, said it was fully cooperating with the prosecutors.
Prosecutors said the top management at MAN had not been implicated in the allegations, which arose after a tip-off from tax authorities.
Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that in some cases MAN had made the payments for years, depositing the money in the accounts of friends and relatives of the purchasing personnel.
Memories of Siemens corruption scandal
The inquiry has rekindled memories of the discovery of a similar corruption affair at engineering and telecommunications giant Siemens in 2006. Investigators found that Siemens staff had set up slush funds to pay "commissions" to executives in Italy, Greece and other nations to secure contracts.
The affair led to a major restructuring at Siemens and the company later agreed to pay 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) in fines.
In 2007, MAN responded to the Siemens scandal by appointing two ombudsmen to accept tip-offs from whistle-blowers in the company and investigate possible breaches of corporate standards.