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17.5M EURO SCAM: EFCC QUIZZES SIEMENS, WOERMANN'S MDS, OTHERS

By NBF News
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EFCC Chairman, Farida Waziri
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday grilled the Managing Directors of Siemens and C. Woermann, Mr. Alain De Cat and Mr. Ralf Henrich, respectively, over the 17.5m euros Siemens bribery allegation.

Our correspondent gathered that the MDs and other officials of the two multi-nationals were questioned for several hours at the commission's office, in Abuja.

Also quizzed over the scam were Siemens' General Manager, Finance and Accounts, Mr. Tunde Orija as well as the Chief Accountant, C. Woermann, Mr. Olusegun Olaniyi.

Following the conclusion of investigation of Nigerian officials named in the bribery scandal, last week, EFCC Chairman, Mrs. Farida Waziri, had said that officials of Siemens would take their turns before the interrogators this week.

Siemens is a Germany-based telecommunication giant, while C. Woermann has its headquarters in Germany.

C. Woermann Nigeria Ltd is based in Lagos and was established more than 60 years ago as a subsidiary of C. Woermann, Hamburg, Germany.

It manufactures machinery, steel products, vehicle spare parts and deutz engines and spare parts.

A former Chief Executive Officer of Siemens Nigeria, Mr. Eduard Siedel, had been named as the company's official that allegedly distributed the slush fund to designated Nigerian officials in anticipation of juicy contracts.

He had allegedly confessed in his statements to a court in Munich, Germany, that he distributed the money through two business consultants, including C.Woermann.

A source at EFCC said, 'From our records, Siemens used C. Woermann as a conduit to channel the bribe to the Nigerian officials. The monies were paid through their account.

'They are accessory to the bribery scandal and that is why we have to invite their officials and scrutinise their books. We are making steady progress in our investigation.

'We are nearing the end of the interrogations and we may not invite more officials of the two companies. The four officials were granted administrative bail around 6pm, but they may have to report again tomorrow (today) for further interrogation.'

De Cat had on May 20 pledged that his company would cooperate with the EFCC officials investigating the scam whenever invited.

The MD, who spoke at a forum on 'Business principles as a tool for strengthening ethics and transparency in the conduct of businesses in Nigeria,' promised that the company would compensate Nigeria.

If found guilty, he said that Siemens would invest in the local content initiative of the country.

He stated that the company had accepted its 'misdeeds' in the global scam and had paid about $2bn fines to some of the countries involved.

He had said, 'As a compensation for our misdeeds, we will pay Nigeria back by investing in Nigeria's future. We have discovered that this is bigger and will have more impact than paying fines and other punishments that might be meted out to us.

'In the course of looking for an adequate compensation plan, we discovered that government at all levels have embarked on a programme targeted at increasing the local content initiative of the country.

'Hence, we have embarked on a project on how to work on achieving this laudable initiative. To this end, we will invest massively in the local content programme.

'We will help train Nigerians and assist them to imbibe skills and knowledge that will help drive the economy in the near future. This is better than paying fines, no matter the amount.'

In 2007, Siemens admitted that it uncovered more than 1.3bn euros suspicious payments to top government officials and highly placed individuals in Libya, Russia and Nigeria as inducements for contract award.

The company pleaded guilty and was fined about 200m euros by a court in Munich, on October 4, 2007.