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Ford Staff, Suppliers Probed in Germany for Fraud

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Dec. 13 (Bloomberg) -- The homes and offices of Ford Motor Co. employees and suppliers in the German cities of Cologne and Leverkusen were searched today by prosecutors as part of a probe into fraud and bribery allegations.

Employees at a Ford unit for remodeling production sites may have accepted payments from the carmaker’s business partners, Cologne prosecutors’ spokeswoman Christina Pohlen said in an interview. In turn, the employees may have approved invoices to overcharge Ford, she said.

“One person was arrested, but at the moment, we don’t want to comment on who the person is or for whom the person is working,” Pohlen said.

Ford’s Cologne site, where the European division is based, was also raided. Ford is the victim and has been cooperating, Pohlen said. The case stems from a similar investigation by prosecutors in Saarbruecken, Germany. Cologne started its probe in September.

Ford “fully backs” the investigations and is seeking damages from the respective workers, Bernd Meier, a spokesman for the carmaker said today by phone. Ford may have suffered a loss in the “single-digit” millions of euros, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Karin Matussek in Berlin at kmatussek@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@Bloomberg.net.

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