Arrests made in Media Markt corruption probe

Prosecutors investigating corruption in Europe’s biggest consumer electronics chain have arrested five people, including a top manager and his wife – over allegations of massive bribery.

Arrests made in Media Markt corruption probe
Photo: DPA

The Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Thursday that a Media Markt executive had been arrested in connection with bribes allegedly paid to give one firm exclusive access to sell DSL connections to the chain’s customers.

The man alleged to have made millions from selling the DSL connections was among those arrested, the paper said.

A spokesman at the Media-Saturn group, which includes Germany’s dominate consumer electronics chains Media Markt and Saturn, said the manager was going to be removed from the company.

Augsburg public prosecutor Reinhard Nemetz told the paper he was expecting to press charges of serious bribery, describing the suspects as having been organised like a gang. A conviction could lead to prison sentences, he said.

It is thought that a businessman named by the prosecutor only as Peter N., made €50 million in commissions on DSL contracts that his workers sold at Media Markt and Saturn shops between 2005 and 2010.

He had paid hefty bribes to managers at Media-Saturn in order to be the only one selling such contracts in their stores, the prosecutor alleges.

The talk is of around €3.5 million in bribes, made in more than 200 payments. This opened the doors of the shops to him, with managers being told to cooperate with his workers.

A whistleblower sent a letter to the authorities last year, describing in detail how the operation worked. This sparked raids in July, with around 160 police officers searching 20 flats and offices across the country, including the Media-Saturn headquarters in Ingolstadt.

Material seized during these raids supported the claims made in the letter, the Süddeutsche Zeitung said. An internal investigation conducted by auditing firm KPMG came to similar conclusions.

The bribe money was laundered via, among other things, property purchases in the USA – via companies set up and owned by the wives of those concerned.

The Local/hc

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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.