Ex-Siemens manager faces trial over 'commissions'

A former Siemens manager on trial over alleged corruption and bribery testified Monday that 'commissions' were paid to secure orders, an Associated Press repot said,

Reinhard Siekaczek, a former manager at the ICN fixed-line telephone network division, is the first to go on trial over the company's corruption scandal that came to light last year, the report added.

Siekaczek, 57, is charged with 58 counts of breach of trust. Prosecutors allege that he set up a complex network of shell corporations that he used to siphon off company money over several years, the Associated Press report said.

The money allegedly was used as bribes to help secure contracts abroad by paying off would-be suppliers, government officials, potential customers, it added.

Testifying as the trial opened, Siekaczek acknowledged having set up slush funds.

'The whole sectoral management was naturally informed that this function was carried out by me,' he told the Munich state court.

'Naturally it was known to me and everyone that we pay commissions to secure orders,' he said, adding that they had been handled 'very discreetly' with only a very small circle of people in the know.

The report further said Siekaczek testified that his superiors had told him to create a new payment system after paying bribes abroad became a criminal offense in Germany in the late 1990s. He said judicial authorities had been on the trail of a previously established system of accounts in Austria.

He said at a meeting with four managers in 2002 he was given the job of organizing the payments. 'It was naturally clear to all that this does not correspond to the law,' he said, adding that their attitude was: 'We're not doing it for ourselves, but for this firm.'

Siekaczek said he used a system of phony consultant contracts in order to generate money for commissions. 'I saw no other possibility,' he said.

The defendant said he did not receive bonus payments for his actions. 'I myself derived no benefit,' he said.

Breach of trust carries a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison. The trial is scheduled to last through July.