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Former Siemens manager convicted of bribery, handed suspended sentence

Two former Siemens AG managers were convicted Monday of bribery and assisting bribery for their involvement in multimillion-euro (-dollar) payments to officials at an Italian utility, in the first trial affecting the scandal-wracked German company.

The Darmstadt state court convicted Andreas Kley, 63, a former manager at Siemens' power generation unit, of bribing managers at the Italian utility Enel SpA and handed him a suspended sentence of two years. Horst Vigener, 73, also a former manager at the unit, was found guilty of abetting bribery and given a nine-month suspended sentence.

During the trial, the pair acknowledged involvement in paying kickbacks worth Ђ6 million (US$7.9 million) to a pair of officials at Enel in a bid to win a series of contracts for Siemens-made gas turbines between 1999 and 2002.

Both also asserted that it had not been Siemens' idea to offer bribes to win contracts. Vigener's lawyer said the Enel officials had approached him with demands for payments, and Kley also said they had suddenly demanded money shortly before the contract was agreed.

Prosecutors put at Ђ450.3 million (US$592 million) the total value of contracts that were sought by a consortium of Siemens and Italy's Ansaldo, with at least EURO 338.1 million (US$444.5 million) of that going to Siemens.

Siemens said it would appeal the verdict, maintaining that the court's order to forfeit the profits from two orders placed by Enel with Siemens' Power Generation Group for the supply of power plant equipment in 2000 and 2001 is illegal.

Shares of Siemens rose nearly 1 percent to EURO 87.86 (US$118.49).

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