Siemens Hires Outside Lawyer As Nokia Venture Threatened

Siemens on Monday said it’s hired the law firm Debevoise & Plimpton to review its compliance system, amid concern that bribery allegations could disrupt its planned networks joint venture with Nokia.

Munich prosecutors are looking into allegations that officials at Siemens’ telecommunications arm diverted at least 200 million euros ($265 million) to a slush fund for use to pay bribes, according to several press reports. Over the weekend German press reported that Siemens executives fear that Nokia may withdraw from its planned 50-50 venture.

Siemens said it has hired Debevoise & Plimpton to conduct an independent and comprehensive investigation of its compliance and control systems. Its auditor, KPMG, will assist the law firm, Siemens said.

“We are employing the knowledge and experience of external and independent experts to track down specific cases of misconduct and gaps in Siemens’ regulations, structures and processes and to make our compliance system absolutely watertight,” said CEO Klaus Kleinfeld in a statement.

Siemens also added the co-founder of Transparency International, Michael. J. Hershman, as a compliance auditor. The anti-corruption organisation has threatened to terminate Siemens’ membership in the group.

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