German firm raided over bribery claims

Two prosecutors from the German city of Bremen and a Greek judicial official last week raided the offices of Rheinmetall Defence Electronics in Athens as part of an investigation into alleged tax offenses and the payment of bribes to local defense officials, Kathimerini has learned.

The raid on the Kolonaki offices of the German company took place following an investigation in Germany and the issuing of a warrant last month, sources said. Judicial and tax authorities in Germany searched the offices of Rheinmetall Defence two weeks before the raid in Athens.

The company is based in Bremen and describes itself as “Europe’s foremost supplier of army technology and a longstanding partner of the armed forces.”

Prosecutors in Germany are examining claims that the firm’s representative in Greece paid 18 million euros under the table to defense officials to secure contracts for the sale of electronic equipment for Greek navy submarines. The person in question was also the representative of another Germany company, Atlas Elektronik, a naval electronics and systems business that is also based in Bremen and which is a joint venture of EADS and ThyssenKrupp. ThyssenKrupp said it had discovered the matter itself “as part of a compliance investigation” and notified the authorities about it in 2010.

Sources said that German prosecutors believe the bribe money was paid to the representative in Greece via companies in London.

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