September 5, 2007 / 9:32 AM / 13 years ago

SEC asks for Germany's help in Siemens probe

FRANKFURT, Sept 4 (Reuters) - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has made an official request to Germany’s Justice Ministry for help in its investigation into suspected bribery and corruption at Siemens (SIEGn.DE).

The Ministry said on Wednesday it had asked for documents related to the investigation from the authorities in Bavaria, where Siemens is based, and would then decide whether to pass them on to the SEC, confirming a report in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

The SEC, Munich prosecutors and Siemens itself are investigating suspect payments which estimates put in the hundreds of millions of euros that were made by Siemens employees to parties described as business consultants.

Investigators suspect at least some of the payments were bribes to win telecoms equipment and other contracts.

Industrial conglomerate Siemens, whose chief executive and chairman resigned this year over the corruption affair, said in July it was widening its investigation from the telecoms unit to include its turbines, transport and medical units, among others.

It said the sums involved were significantly higher than the 420 million euros ($571 million) in suspect payments it had been examining at its telecoms equipment unit.

The company faces the possibility of large fines or even U.S. sanctions that could exclude it from bidding for certain contracts as a result of the SEC investigation.

A spokesman for the Bavarian Justice Ministry said on Wednesday that Munich prosecutors had recently met SEC representatives.

Munich prosecutors expect first German charges in the case could be filed later this year. (Additional reporting by Karey Wutkowski in Washington)

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