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Business

Siemens Corruption Trial Begins

After a year and a half of investigations into alleged corruption at engineering giant Siemens, the first criminal trial opened on Monday, May 26. The chief prosecutor said the massive case would send a clear message.

A man walks past a Siemens sign

The corruption network has been estimated at well over a billion euros

Former Siemens manager Reinhardt Siekaczek, 57, went on trial in Munich on Monday, May 26, in a case that may reveal the scale of a suspected bribery network that is already estimated at around 1.3 billion euros ($2 billion).

Siekaczek, who has already admitted to setting up slush funds, has been charged with 58 cases of breach of trust, each of which could bring a jail sentence of up to five years. He is suspected of embezzling as much as 50 million euros, which went as bribes to individuals who acquired contracts for Siemens.

Siekaczek is not accused of personally pocketing any of the money.

Senior Public Prosecutor Anton Winkler said he hoped the trial would "bring new awareness in corporate culture that bribery will not be tolerated, either in Germany or abroad."

Some 300 suspects are being investigated by Munich prosecutors in an affair that led to the resignation of two Siemens executives -- former CEOs Klaus Kleinfeld and Heinrich von Pierer.

Von Pierer is to appear as a witness in the case, as is Siemens' current chief financial officer, Joe Kaeser.

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