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Business

Prosecutors probe German utility EnBW, Russian lobbyist

The German paper Süddeutsche Zeitung says prosecutors are probing Germany’s third biggest power utility, EnBW, for allegedly transferring funds to Switzerland, possibly to obtain nuclear fuel rods and gas from Russia.

The German power utility Energie Baden-Württemberg (EnBW) had secretly channeled about 280 million euros ($386 million) to "slush fund" accounts in Switzerland and then to a Russian lobbyist and his Swiss firms, the German daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) claimed on Monday.

But, after getting "cold feet," EnBW later applied to retrospectively revise its tax returns for the period 2000-2007 and paid some 60 million euros to Germany's revenue collection service, said the daily, which is widely read in Germany.

Quoting prosecutors in Mannheim, Germany, the SZ wrote that six former and one current manager at EnBW - Germany's third largest power utility, largely in public ownership - were currently being investigated in connection with a practice that had been going on for years.

Russian lobbyist

Since 2012 the prosecutors' investigations had focused on a Moscow lobbyist named as Andrej Bykow. He had Swiss firms and "best contacts to top circles of Russian politics and administration," the newspaper said.

Over many years, EnBW had worked with Bykow to procure Russian uranium fuel cells and natural gas from Siberia, the SZ added.

Revenue officials in Karlsruhe, Germany, had been "struck" by the ease with which EnBW paid three-figure sums to Bykow "without performance clauses," the SZ said. Byrow had claimed to have transferred half of his fees to a Russian charitable trust, SZ added.

It quoted a Mannheim prosecutions spokesman as saying the investigation so far had not centered on corruption, but this could change as Karlsruhe tax officials continued their investigations.

uhe/tj, ipj (dpa)