Latest German business scam might involve Egyptians

German federal prosecutors are investigating a leading German firm on charges of world-scale corruption and bribery cases of foreign agents, according to documents obtained by Al-Masry Al-Youm, that also unveil the partially UAE- owned company had hired a middleman to secure contracts in Egypt.

Investigations’ documents allege that Ferrostaal, the Essen-based group, has paid an Egyptian agent an unspecified amount of money to facilitate a business contract with an Egyptian enterprise.

The Ferrostaal case is the latest in a series of corruption probes that have cast German companies in a negative light. Luxury carmaker Daimler AG in April paid US$185 million to settle allegations it had violated US anti-bribery laws by showering foreign government officials with money and gifts to win contracts.

In the Ferrostaal case, the papers are quoting a German manager as telling the investigators that the Egyptian agent had received the bribe to facilitate a 15 million euro deal with the Egyptian side.

The manger told investigators that the Egyptian middleman was hired by Ferrostaal as a consultant for their business in Egypt. He added that the agent claimed he used to transfer the payment as kickbacks to senior officials in the enterprise to secure a 5-year contract that started in 2002.

The manger said while he was in charge of the operations in Egypt he was making sure that all money allocated to that purpose was paid though the Egyptian agent and was not supervised in the ways money was spent.

The last payment to the agent was made in 2007, he claimed.

However, the documents do not provide any evidence that the agent has actually made any payment to Egyptian officials or show if the German prosecutors have been in contacts with their Egyptian counterparts over the case.

The documents revealed that officials and agents in several other countries had received bribes from Ferrostaal including Portugal, Colombia, Greece, Pakistan, Indonesia and Argentina.

In March, Reuters reported that German authorities detained two persons in an investigation into suspected corruption at Ferrostaal, which develops and manages industrial projects.

The agency quoted investigators saying that they took one person into custody and searched offices at Ferrostaal, a former MAN AG unit in which Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) now owns a majority stake.

A Ferrostaal spokesman told the agency only that the company was cooperating with the investigation.

In May, the group’s supervisory board decided to “relieve” Matthias Mitscherlich of his duties as chief executive officer and member of the executive board of Ferrostaal. According to the firm’s statement, the supervisory board “saw this as a necessary step to clear the ground for a new start for the company.”

MAN, which still owns a 30 percent stake in Ferrostaal, agreed in December to pay around 150 million euros to settle a probe into suspected bribery.

Engineering group Siemens AG agreed in 2008 to pay US$1.3 billion to end corruption probes in the United States and Germany.

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