ThyssenKrupp’s Eichler to Leave Supervisory Board Amid Probe

Bertin Eichler, deputy chairman of ThyssenKrupp AG’s supervisory board, will leave it this year amid an investigation into company-funded foreign travel.

Eichler won’t run again for a board position in 2013, according to an e-mailed statement from the IG Metall labor union, where he’s a member of the directorate.

Compliance staff at ThyssenKrupp, Germany’s largest steelmaker, are probing Eichler over five trips that had a partly “touristic character,” Handelsblatt reported today. He had traveled to Cuba, Thailand, China and the U.S.

ThyssenKrupp has already ousted three executive board members in an effort to repair a boardroom tainted by corruption allegations and an ill-fated expansion in the Americas. The company, which is cutting business units to five from eight and building its non-steel base, scrapped its dividend for the first time in December after posting a second straight annual loss.

What’s permitted and common isn’t always “correct,” Eichler said in the IG Metall statement. He’ll pay the difference between first- and business-class flights that he took, he said.

Prosecutors in Essen, where ThyssenKrupp is based, are still studying a foreign trip taken by Juergen Claassen, who left the executive board last month, Wilhelm Kassenboehmer, a spokesman for the prosecutors, said today by phone.

The steel producer is carrying out an internal probe into “tours with executive board members and third parties,” Peter Sauer, a company spokesman, said by e-mail, declining to elaborate.

ThyssenKrupp fell 1.9 percent to 18.68 euros in Frankfurt.

“Our leadership culture has failed in many areas of the company,” Chief Executive Officer Heinrich Hiesinger said last month. “There were obviously some who thought that rules, regulations and laws do not apply to everyone.”

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