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Ex-German President Wulff Charged Over Oktoberfest-Bill

Former German President Christian Wulff was charged with accepting bribes from a film producer who sought his influence in 2008 to get Siemens AG to support distribution of a movie.

David Groenewold, the film producer, who was also charged, paid 719.40 euros ($939) for Wulff’s hotel and child care during the Munich Oktoberfest in 2008, Hanover prosecutors said in an e-mailed statement today. The businessman also spent 3,209 euros for a dinner with Wulff and other people.

“It seems sufficiently likely that this happened with the intent to motivate Wulff to solicit support from Siemens for distribution of the movie ‘John Rabe’,” prosecutors said. “One day after the Oktoberfest visit, Groenewold asked Wulff to contact the Siemens Chief Executive Officer Peter Loescher.”

Wulff, an ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, resigned when prosecutors opened the probe in February 2012. He became the second man to resign from the largely ceremonial post in less than two years after Horst Koehler stepped down due to comments he made about the country’s military mission in Afghanistan.

Wulff, who was prime minister of the German state of Lower Saxony from 2003 to 2010, in December 2008 wrote a letter to Loescher asking him to support Groenewold’s film project, prosecutors said. He became German president in July 2010 after being nominated by Merkel.

The former president rejects the allegations and “trusts in the court’s independence, sovereignty and sense of proportion,” his lawyers Bernd Muessig and Michael Nagel said in a statement on their website. The Hanover Regional Court now has to rule on whether Wulff must face a trial.

Wulff and Groenewold earlier this week both rejected an offer by prosecutors to settle the charges.

Lawyers for Groenewold didn’t immediately reply to e-mails seeking comment today. They have previously said their client did nothing wrong.

Siemens’s spokesman Philippe Encz declined to comment.

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