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CRIME

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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CRIME

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.

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