Siemens close to deal with US over scandal charges

Siemens close to deal with US over scandal charges
Photo: DPA
German industrial giant Siemens is close to reaching agreement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on a fine in connection with a corruption scandal, a press report said on Thursday.

“We hope to reach an accord with the SEC before Christmas,” a source close to the Siemens supervisory board told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

Board members were advised to be available for an extraordinary meeting and “if necessary, we will get together on December 23,” the source said. Otherwise a deal was expected by early 2009 at the latest.

Talks with German justice officials were also close to a conclusion, the newspaper added.

The affair has weighed heavily on Siemens, which makes everything from nuclear power stations to trains and light bulbs, and employs some 400,000 people worldwide.

The 161-year-old conglomerate has acknowledged that up to €1.3 billion ($1.7 billion) may have been used illegally to win foreign contracts.

Siemens found the practice was widespread across its numerous divisions. Prosecutors have investigated around 300 people in connection with the affair. It led to the resignation of a string of top executives, including chief executive Klaus Kleinfeld and his long-term predecessor and chairman of the board, Heinrich von Pierer.

Because it has listed shares on the New York Stock exchange since 2001, Siemens risked a heavy fine from the SEC.

The German group recently took provisions of €1 billion against potential fines in both Germany and the United States.