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VW and Telekom workers accused of corruption

The Stuttgart prosecutor’s office has indicted five employees affiliated with Volkswagen and Deutsche Telekom subsidiary T-Systems in connection with an alleged anti-competitive bribery scheme involving VfL Wolfsburg football club.

VW and Telekom workers accused of corruption
Photo: DPA

According to prosecutors, T-Systems entered a €16 million deal to sponsor VfL Wolfsburg, which is owned by Volkswagen. In return, Volkswagen signed a contact for services from T-Systems, such as maintenance of computer systems, worth hundreds of millions of euros, the indictment said.

Two workers each from T-Systems and Volkswagen and a consultant have been charged with corruption related offences, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung. All deny the charges, the newspaper reported.

Lawyer Björn Gehrke, representing one of the accused, told the Süddeutsche that the five had acted in “good faith” and higher-ups had been fully informed of what was going on.

A Volkswagen spokesman said the company was interested in finding out what had happened but, in principle, didn’t think it was wrong to purchase services from a football club sponsor.

The government is arguing that the employees arranged a quid-pro-quo sponsorship arrangement, which is corrupt because it is anti-competitive.

Deutsche Telekom had no immediate comment, but the scandal is said to have emerged from discoveries made in an internal company review.

The Local/mdm

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GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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