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Rheinmetall, Atlas Probed for Bribing Greek Officials

Aug. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Rheinmetall AG and Atlas Elektronik GmbH, a unit jointly owned by ThyssenKrupp AG and European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., were raided as part of a German probe into allegations of bribery by employees.

The suspects are being investigated over payments to Greek officials from 1998 to 2011 to win contracts for submarine equipment, Frank Passade, a spokesman for the prosecutors’ office in Bremen, Germany, said in an interview today. Atlas, a naval electronics manufacturer, allegedly paid 8.5 million euros ($11.4 million) in bribes and Dusseldorf-based Rheinmetall, an armored vehicle maker, paid 9.1 million euros, Passade said.

“Atlas informed us in 2010 about the matter, but at the time the facts indicated that we didn’t have jurisdiction since everything happened abroad,” Passade said. “Tax investigators inspecting Rheinmetall’s books last year brought new aspects to light prompting us to open a probe.”

Germany has seen a wave of bribery investigations since Siemens AG was raided in 2006. Ferrostaal GmbH was fined 140 million euros ($187 million) as part of a settlement in 2011 over bribes to officials in Greece and Portugal to win submarine orders.

The allegations in the Bremen probe overlap with events that were part of the Ferrostaal case, Passade said. The searches of Rheinmetall and Atlas took place last week, he said. He declined to identify any suspects.

The companies confirmed the raids. Oliver Hoffmann, a spokesman for Rheinmetall, said the allegations are baseless. Atlas, based in Bremen, is cooperating with the probe, said Steffen Leuthold, a spokesman for the company.

Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported the raid earlier.

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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