MAN Bribery Probe Leads To Arrests

More than 100 people are under investigation in a probe of alleged bribery at German truck maker MAN AG, and two were arrested last week, prosecutors said Monday.

BERLIN (AP) -- More than 100 people are under investigation in a probe of alleged bribery at German truck maker MAN AG, and two were arrested last week, prosecutors said Monday.

Munich prosecutors, who launched the investigation and searched the company's offices last week, said they suspect that a "system to boost sales of trucks and buses" was in place in Germany.

Salespeople are alleged to have paid "bribes characterized as commission payments" to employees of MAN customers, sometimes via the accounts of relatives and friends, they said in a statement.

The investigation covers the period from 2002 to 2009; up to 2005 alone, bribes totaling euro1 million ($1.36 million) allegedly were paid, they added.

Prosecutors said that "well over 100 people" are under investigation for possible offenses of bribery and tax evasion.

Two people were arrested last week, though one was later released, they said.

Prosecutors did not identify the people arrested, but said current management board members at MAN's truck division were not affected.

They said they suspect that, in some cases, bribes also were paid via letterbox firms in Malta, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Cyprus, London and New York. Investigators are now trying to determine who received money and why.

Munich-based MAN has said that it will give its full support to the investigation and stressed that its policies specifically prohibit the payment of bribes to procure business.

It also has said that an internal audit two years ago found "irregularities regarding payment transactions in individual cases."

The allegations of bribery at MAN follow a wide-ranging corruption scandal at industrial conglomerate Siemens AG, also based in Munich, which acknowledged making dubious payments to secure business.

However, Anton Winkler, a spokesman for Munich prosecutors, said that "the MAN proceedings cannot be compared with the scale of the Siemens proceedings."

MAN shares closed down nearly 6.4 percent in Frankfurt at euro45.83 ($62.21).

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