Ex-Siemens CFO Questioned in Probe

Had allegedly been informed by KPMG about questionable payments to consultants in 2003 and 2004.

The former chief financial officer of engineering giant Siemens is under investigation by German prosecutors in a bribery and embezzlement probe, according to published accounts.

News agency AFP reported that Heinz-Joachim Neubuerger was questioned last week about allegations he may have known about the existence of slush funds and suspicious consultancy payments. Citing the online edition of Der Spiegel, the news agency added that Neubuerger had allegedly been informed by KPMG about questionable payments to consultants in 2003 and 2004.

Neubuerger — the CFO of Siemens from 1998 until he resigned in April 2006, according to The Wall Street Journal — has asserted in newspaper interviews that he knew nothing about possible cases of corruption and that the Siemens management board had been “led up the garden path.”

He will be questioned by prosecutors again this week, according to the AFP. Neubuerger could not immediately be reached for comment.

The news agency noted that Siemens has been the target of probes since November, when prosecutors raided the offices and homes of a number of company employees on suspicions of embezzlement, bribery, and tax evasion. Reportedly, seven current and former employees were detained for questioning but then released.

According to the AFP, prosecutors suspect that certain employees collaborated to open slush fund accounts abroad and embezzle from Siemens. Prosecutors believe that $258 million is held in the accounts, which were possibly used to provide bribes in hopes of obtaining business abroad.

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