Munich (dpa) - A former senior executive at MAN, the German engineering group, admitted in court Wednesday to paying a huge kickback to obtain an order from Kazakhstan to supply turbines.
Heinz Juergen M, who was head of the MAN Turbo division till 2007, told a criminal court in Munich the payment, booked at the time as a "consultancy fee," was needed to prevent the contract going to competitors.
The trial was the first since an investigation turned up a rash of kickbacks by MANÂ executives to secure contracts. The group also makes trucks and buses. M′s confession was agreed in advance in exchange for a reduction in his penalty for bribing a foreign official.
M said he ordered the payment of about 9 million euros (11 million dollars) in 2004 to a Kazakh woman to secure a major contract to modernise a gas pipeline. She had told MANÂ the sum was the "market entry fee."
"If we had not agreed to pay up, we would not have obtained the contract," he said, adding he had believed he was acting in MAN′s interests, since the order could have led to contracts worth billions of euros. Siemens and General Electric also tendered.
M said the woman was a conduit to the "clans that have considerable economic and political influence" in Kazakhstan.
MANÂ paid her via several bank accounts.
Presiding judge Joachim Eckert said as the trial began that there had been a plea bargain. M, who was held for a week last year but then freed on bail, could expect a suspended sentence of no more than two years′ jail if he gave full testimony about the bribe.
One other former MANÂ executive is expected to face trial. The company agreed to pay penalties and tax arrears totalling 220 million euros after the scandal was disclosed during a wider crackdown on corruption by German exporters. dpa dwi jbp
Author: Daniela Wiegmann