SEC Asks for German Help with Siemens Probe

Hopes to shed light on U.S. business practices at company

The Securities and Exchange Commission, has asked German justice officials for help probing possible corruption at engineering group Siemens, a spokesman for the federal justice office said on Sept. 5.

The SEC, which approached German investigators in March, is seeking access to their files, the spokesman said, confirming a report in the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Prosecutors in the southern city of Munich are leading investigations into alleged corruption by officials at Siemens, which has acknowledged dubious transactions worldwide worth around 420 million euros (US$570 million).

Siemens is currently the object of a dozen bribery and anti-trust investigations and German press reports have said the total amount involved could be as much as nearly one billion euros.

The SEC's request demonstrates the powerful U.S. watchdog's determination to shed light on U.S. business practices at Siemens, which is subject to control by U.S. authorities because it is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The German conglomerate risks heavy fines if found in violation of U.S. laws, in addition to any judicial sanctions in Germany.

On Sept. 4, a Siemens spokesman said Chinese justice officials were probing a possible case of corruption that the Sueddeutsche Zeitung said centered on the sale of medical equipment by the German group to a hospital in northeastern China.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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