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CORRUPTION

Berlin airport scandal: Probe into possible poison attack

Berlin's new airport has been blighted by delays and corruption. Now the farce has taken a darker turn, as police investigate the possible attempted poisoning of a whistleblower.

Berlin airport scandal: Probe into possible poison attack
Berlin Brandenburg Airport. Photo: DPA

According to Bild am Sonntag, a top engineer at Berlin's new international airport (BER) collapsed in May 2015 while at work.  

The man survived, but a report on the cause of his collapse found that he had been poisoned, and posited that “a lethal substance could have been poured into his coffee”.

He may have been targeted for being a whistleblower in a corruption scandal that has engulfed the airport management over the past 12 months, Bild am Sonntag reports.

Now prosecutors in Brandenburg are investigating “the suspicion of grievous bodily harm”, according to Berlin daily Tagesspiegel.

The scandal relates to the construction contractor, Imtech, which prosecutors allege bribed airport officials to receive inflated payments for their work. BER as well as Imtech managers are currently under investigation for corruption.

Imtech has since filed for bankruptcy and in 2015 four people were arrested in relation to the probe, one from BER and three from Imtech.

The airport was originally supposed to open in 2011 but has been mired in a seemingly never-ending series of scandals relating to financing and planning failures.

The complete rebuilding of its fire safety systems has delayed the project for the past five years.

Airport administrators insist it will open its doors to the public at the end of 2017, but their own press officer cast doubt on this date before being promptly fired. Meanwhile a former project leader said last week that it may never open.

Accusations of contractors submitting inflated bills have also been made against Siemens, Bosch and Deutsche Telekom. In the Siemens case, prosecutors are looking into the allegation that the company charged €1.9 million for work that was never done.

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BANK

Deutsche Bank to pay $130m to settle US bribery probes

Deutsche Bank will pay $130 million to settle a foreign bribery probe and fraud charges in precious metals trading, US officials announced on Friday.

Deutsche Bank to pay $130m to settle US bribery probes
A woman walks past the offices of Deutsche Bank in London. Photo: Tolga Akmen / AFP
The bribery case relates to illegal payments and to false reporting of those sums on the bank's books and records between 2009 and 2016, the Department of Justice said in a press release.
   
The bank “knowingly and wilfully” kept false records after employees conspired with a Saudi consultant to facilitate bribe payments of over $1 million to a decision maker, the DOJ said.
   
In another case, the bank paid more than $3 million “without invoices” to an Abu Dhabi consultant “who lacked qualifications… other than his family relationship with the client decision maker,” the DOJ said.
   
In addition to criminal fines and payments of ill-gotten gains, Deutsche Bank agreed to cooperate with government investigators under a three-year deferred prosecution agreement.
 
   
In the commodities fraud case, Deutsche Bank metals traders in New York, Singapore and London between 2008 and 2013 placed fake trade orders to profit by deceiving other market participants, the DOJ said.
   
The agreement took into account Deutsche Bank's cooperation with the probes, DOJ said.
   
“Deutsche Bank engaged in a criminal scheme to conceal payments to so-called consultants worldwide who served as conduits for bribes to foreign officials and others so that they could unfairly obtain and retain lucrative business projects,” said Acting US Attorney Seth D. DuCharme of the Eastern District of New York.
   
“This office will continue to hold responsible financial institutions that operate in the United States and engage in practices to facilitate criminal activity in order to increase their bottom line.”
   
“We take responsibility for these past actions, which took place between 2008 and 2017,” said Deutsche Bank spokesperson Dan Hunter, adding that the company has taken “significant remedial actions” including hiring staff and upgrading technology to address the shortcomings.
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