Siemens Board Member Released After Questioning

Johannes Feldmayer leaves detention center in Germany.

Johannes Feldmayer , a Siemens board member who was arrested last week as part of a probe into bribery allegations was released on April 4, a spokesman for Siemens said. "The arrest warrant has been lifted" against Johannes Feldmayer, and the board member -- who has been suspended from his duties -- has already left the detention center in Bamberg, south Germany, where he had been held since last Tuesday, the Siemens spokesman said.

Feldmayer is suspected of paying 15-20 million euros (US$20-26 million) in bogus consultancy fees over a number of years to Wilhelm Schelsky, head of the tiny AUB labor union. The alleged aim of the payments was to build up the union into a sort of counterweight to the all-powerful IG Metall labor union. IG Metall has subsequently filed a lawsuit against Siemens in the matter, accusing management of attempting to influence elections to the works council or the work of council members.

Siemens' former finance chief, Karl-Hermann Baumann, is also being investigated in the matter.

At the same time, Siemens is also engulfed in a massive slush-fund scandal, where prosecutors allege that company managers siphoned off hundreds of millions of euros in company money to obtain foreign contracts.

Prosecutors last week said they had arrested two more current and former managers in connection with the matter following a series of high-profile arrests at the end of last year, including the former head of Siemens' telecoms division, Thomas Ganswindt. Prosecutors allege that the employees concerned are suspected of collaborating to open slush fund accounts abroad and of operating a system to embezzle company money.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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