Seven former and current managers of EnBW Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG are being investigated over payments of 59 million euros ($74 million) made to Bykov Group in Russia.
The suspects are being probed for tax evasion and breach of trust, Peter Lintz, a spokesman for prosecutors in Mannheim, Germany, said in an e-mailed statement today. The investigators are looking at payments and tax declarations from 2001 to 2008.
Today’s case involves Andrey Bykov, a former company lobbyist, who sued EnBW in January in response to a 120 million-euro arbitration claim the company filed against him. Earlier this month, EnBW’s offices were raided in a separate investigation into allegations employees participated in a tax-evasion scheme using carbon-emission certificate trading that cost taxpayers 46 million euros.
EnBW doesn’t know what prompted the prosecutor to open the investigation, the company said in an e-mailed statement. EnBW will “constructively” follow the inquiry, it said, adding that it began its own probe into the Russian activities in 2009.
Bykov is seeking a court ruling declaring that he doesn’t owe anything to EnBW as the money was paid under sham contracts initiated by the Karlsruhe, Germany-based company. He claimed he was hired by EnBW to help acquire stakes in Russian gas fields, according to a January statement on the website of the regional court in Karlsruhe.
Handelsblatt reported on June 12 that Bykov sent about 200 million euros to Russia through sham EnBW contracts over several years, citing an interview with him. At least 130 million euros were used to “forge political relationships” for EnBW.
Half of that money was paid to the Moscow-based St. Nicholas Foundation, which used it to support cultural activities including churches, orchestras and schools to foster EnBW’s opportunities in Russia, Handelsblatt cited Bykov as saying. He kept the other 65 million as his pay, according to the report.
EnBW rejected the allegations in a statement on June 14. The company started arbitration proceedings against Bykov when he didn’t fulfill his contractual obligations, EnBW said.