Appliance kickbacks under investigation

Two of Germany’s biggest appliance makers, Bosch and Siemens, may have provided illegal kickbacks to retailers willing to push their goods to customers, according to a report in the latest issue of Der Spiegel.

Appliance kickbacks under investigation
Photo: DPA

The allegations concern BSH, a joint venture between the German industrial giants, that sells household appliances such as washing machines, refrigerators and ranges. Last year, Munich-based BSH had 39,000 employees and revenues of €8.8 billion.

According to internal documents cited by Spiegel, BSH gave sales staff, including managers at large appliance retailers gift certificates good at retailer Karstadt or with travel agents TUI in exchange for pushing Bosch and Siemens products to customers.

The magazine says BSH spent more than €10 million a year on kickbacks and that the company’s top management, including CEO Kurt-Ludwig Gutberlet, was aware of the illegal practice.

The company confirmed Friday evening that Munich prosecutors were investigating its past marketing practices. A statement also said “possible unfair sales promotions practices from the past,” would be looked into by BSH’s internal compliance unit.

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German police probe fatal knife attack on schoolgirl

Police were on Tuesday investigating a motive behind the fatal stabbing of a 14-year-old girl on her way to school in Baden-Württemberg in a case that made national headlines.

German police probe fatal knife attack on schoolgirl

According to police, a 27-year-old man attacked two girls on the street with a knife as they walked to school Monday morning in the small town of Illerkirchberg near Ulm.

The victim, a German girl with a Turkish family background, was revived at the scene but later died in hospital, police said.

A 13-year-old girl was also hurt in the incident but did not suffer
life-threatening injuries.

Police apprehended the suspect at “nearby asylum seekers’ accommodation”, they said.

The alleged aggressor was injured when he was stopped by police and was taken to receive medical treatment. He was currently being held in hospital under guard.

Google Maps shows the town of Illerkirchberg, which has a little over 5,000 residents, and sits on the border with Bavaria.

“We will fully investigate this terrible act,” announced Thomas Strobl, Baden-Württemberg’s Interior Minister on Monday. “We are deeply affected…when the life of an innocent child is so brutally taken.”

The crime has taken on a political dimension because the suspect is an asylum seeker from Eritrea. Several politicians from Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) used the crime to question the country’s immigration policies. 

In the statement, a police spokesperson asked people “not to harbour general suspicions against strangers, or asylum seekers in general, or to encourage or support such suspicions.”

She said she was aware “that events of this kind stir up fears and emotions.”

The Turkish ambassador to Germany, Ahmet Basar Sen, was set to visit the scene of the crime Tuesday with  Strobl, and the mayor of Illerkirchberg.

“I mourn the girl who was killed and sincerely hope that the injured girl will recover,” Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser posted on Twitter Monday.

“The police are urgently investigating the background” of the attack, she said.