Thyssen bosses arrested over pounds 30m metals fraud
German steel scandal: Executives granted pounds 1m bail after police swoop in Dusseldorf
Saturday 10 August 1996
Detectives searched the homes of several of the arrested men, including Mr Vogel, together with Thyssen's head office in Dusseldorf, for evidence linked to the alleged fraud. Other offices throughout Germany were sealed by police officers and will be searched later.
By late last night, nine of the arrested men, including Mr Vogel, had been released on bail of up to pounds 1m. Mr Vogel appeared briefly before a court in Dusseldorf, where charges were read out.
Shares in Thyssen fell by more than 2 per cent to DM262.2 on the Frankfurt exchange on news of the arrests.
They follow an investigation into Metallurgiehandel, an eastern German metals company bought by Thyssen after German reunification in 1990.
Prosecutors allege both that managers at Thyssen took DM37.8m (pounds 15m) from Metallurgiehandel when it was sold and that a further DM32.2m of damages was caused by manipulating the company's accounts.
Among the other arrests are former Thyssen chairman Heinrich Kersten, and directors Josef von Riedere and Hans Ulrich Gruber.
Berlin prosecutors have been investigating whether Thyssen defrauded the Treuhand privatisation agency in charge of privatising eastern German enterprises.
A separate investigation was launched in 1993 and shelved after Thyssen paid compensation worth pounds 35m to Treuhand.
Analysts yesterday said the arrests were a fall-out from the kind of free-wheeling deal typical in the heady days just after German reunification in 1990.
The case is similar to that of Bremer Vulkan, the biggest German shipbuilder. Bremer Vulkan sank after allegedly covering losses at its Western operations by siphoning off public subsidies earmarked to refurbish its eastern German wharves.
The giant steel-maker said in a statement: "The action of the state prosecutor is incomprehensible. There have been no new facts or evidence since the case was suspended in October 1993."
The company said the arrests had allegedly been made to ensure the managers concerned could not flee the country: "But the fact that most of those concerned interrupted their holidays to make themselves available for questioning means that the fears are absurd." Thyssen added that it would fight the charges with all legal means at its disposal.
The company was indirectly backed by Treuhand, which it allegedly defrauded. A spokesman said: "The case is effectively closed for us."
In 1990, as the Treuhand strove to maintain jobs while selling off state- run enterprises in the formerly communist east, it acted hastily to strike deals with buyers in the interest of protecting jobs.
Treuhand contacted Thyssen in December 1990 to break up Metallurgiehandel, the eastern German state monopoly that controlled foreign trade of metal products.
Like shipbuilder Bremer Vulkan, but on a much smaller scale, Thyssen may have gone too far in trying to squeeze the best deal out of its acquisition of Metallurgiehandel.
"Everybody was trying to shelter themselves from losses," said Olaf Toelke, an analyst at Merrill Lynch.
"They paid little for companies, sometimes only a token price of one mark, but they guaranteed employment."
- 1 Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Pro-Russian rebel 'admits to shooting down plane'
- 2 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
- 3 Israel-Gaza conflict: The myth of Hamas’s human shields
- 4 Amy Winehouse unpublished 2004 interview: ‘Ten years from now I’ll be 30, so I’ll maybe have one baby’
- 5 Dutch paedophile club to fight their ban at the European Court of Human Rights
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
iJobs Money & Business
£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: PMO Analyst - Banking - London - £350 -£400 per d...
£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Cost Reporting Manager - MI Packs -...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum plus 23 days holiday and pension scheme: Clearwater ...
£475 - £525 per day: Orgtel: Test Lead, London, Investment Banking, Technical ...