The board of Deutsche Bahn decided the bonuses back in June, but agreed to keep them strictly confidential, according to this week's edition of the magazine. Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee, who was outraged, was not informed about the millions in extra payments until several days ago.
The federal government suspended the stock flotation of one-quarter of the company two and a half weeks ago due to the ailing global economy and the financial crisis that would have substantially driven down the share price.
Tiefensee was reportedly particularly angered after learning that Deutsche Bahn still planned to pay out the bonuses if the listing of its freight and logistics companies only yielded €3 billion euros, instead of the originally hoped for €5 to 8 billion.
According to Der Spiegel, a high-ranking government official in Tiefensee's ministry knew of the bonus plans and signed off on them in June, but neglected to inform his boss.
The railway company also came in for criticism from opposition politicians.
"It simply cannot happen that we crack down on bank managers, but that we reward the heads of our own companies for wasting federal money," Otto Fricke of the liberal FDP party said.