The company said it would provide “full support in the clarification of the accusations” that it paid up to €16 million in hidden commissions at home and abroad to encourage sales of their vehicles.
Law enforcement officers searched some 39 offices of MAN Truck & Bus Deutschland GmbH and three apartments late on Tuesday. According to daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, several dozen officials searched the company headquarters in Munich, taking laptops and files with them.
The public prosecutor’s office believes that the company may have a system in place that allows salespeople in MAN dealerships to pay those responsible for making sales deals on buses and trucks. The bribes are meant to prevent companies from going to competitors.
Tax authorities discovered the payments during a company audit, Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Wednesday, adding that those making payments – generally lower-level employees – were apparently unaware that they were illegal.
MAN said in a statement that company policy forbids such practices.
As one of the leading European manufacturers of trucks, buses, diesel motors and other large machinery, MAN employs some 51,300 workers.
The bribery scandal comes just a few months after Germany’s faith in some of its leading businesses was shaken by a sprawling corruption scandal at industrial giant Siemens. In December 2008 Siemens paid US and German authorities some €1 billion to settle accusations that it had run a bribery system to secure foreign contracts.