The investigation of top managers is a “logical part” of the probe of Eckart von Klaeden, who was hired by Daimler as a lobbyist, Martin Steltner, a spokesman for Berlin prosecutors, said in an interview. He declined to identify any board members or say how many are under investigation.
“It’s not illegal if a government official changes jobs and joins a company as a lobbyist,” Steltner said. “It would be illegal if the official did something in favor of the company while still in office in the expectation that would somehow pay off after he moved over. We have to review whether that was the case.”
Von Klaeden, a former state minister at Merkel’s chancellery, announced in May he would join Daimler as head of external affairs. He stayed at his government job until September.
Daimler is cooperating with prosecutors and is convinced that the executives acted properly, Ute von Vellberg, a spokeswoman for Stuttgart-based Daimler, said in an e-mailed statement.
A spokeswoman for Merkel declined to comment. Von Klaeden’s tasks in the chancellery “didn’t include facilitating, preparing or let alone make decisions related to the automotive industry,” Steffen Seibert, Merkel’s chief spokesman, told reporters on Nov. 4.
The investigation by the Berlin prosecutors’ office was triggered by an anonymous tip.
Von Klaeden has contacted prosecutors through his lawyer and is “fully” cooperating, he said in an e-mail on Nov. 3, saying he was confident that the allegations will be completely cleared.
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