December 13, 2007 / 1:18 PM / 10 years ago

Norway charges Siemens, officers over "golf" bribe

OSLO, Dec 13 (Reuters) - More heads may roll in a bribe investigation that has already yielded charges against executives of German engineering firm Siemens (SIEGn.DE) and top Norwegian military officers, Norway’s economic crime unit said.

Crime unit Okokrim this week charged 12 Norwegian military officers with corruption, accusing them of accepting bribes in the form of gifts, expensive dinners and luxurious golfing trips from Siemens AS, the Norwegian unit of the German group.

Two executives at Siemens AS have also been charged.

“We cannot rule out further charges, we are in an early stage in the investigation, and there is always a possibility for more charges,” public prosecutor Geir Kavlie at economic crime unit Okokrim told Reuters on Thursday.

Kavlie said Okokrim was investigating several possible bribes but declined to give details about them or about the potential financial scope of the case.

“We have not yet concluded anything,” Kavlie said. “First, we have to figure out the facts, then we need to draw conclusions about whether or not this is punishable,” he said.

Board member Hans Loedrup, also former chairman of the board and chief executive of Siemens AS, stepped down from his position while unit chief Frank Almaas was given a leave of absence until “further notice,” Siemens AS said on Wednesday.

The case specifically involves a 2004 golf trip to Alicante in Spain, where Siemens picked up a bill of 17,400 Norwegian crowns ($3,220) for military participants.

“The damage of reputation the Alicante-case has caused Siemens has prompted the owners and Loedrup to agree that the best thing for the company is that Loedrup will not be re-elected, but step down from the board,” spokeswoman at Siemens AS, Gry Rohde Nordhus, told Reuters.

Nordhus said the Alicante trip was in violation with Siemens’ internal guidelines.

In a separate case, a Siemens business services unit in Norway was this week given a 9 million crown fine by Okokrim this week for overcharging the Norwegian military for IT work by more than 60 million crowns in 2000 to 2005.

Siemens has paid back 70 million crowns to the military related to this case.

Editing by Andrew Callus

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