Criminal proceedings against Von Roll;
Chief Executive Lüthy under suspicion of bribery

May 5, 2002

Andreas Flütsch
SonntagsZeitung, Zurich

BONN/ZURICH -- René Lüthy, Chief Executive of the Von-Roll Group, and Fritz Bangerter, former head of the Von-Roll branch office in Germany are much more deeply involved in the Bonn bribery scandal than was heretofore known: 'We are conducting an investigation against Messrs. Bangerter and Lüthy for aiding and abetting aggravated bribery,' confirmed Fred Apostel, spokesman of the Bonn District Attorney's Office, on Friday for the first time.

The background of the Bonn criminal investigation against the two Swiss citizens is "an investigation against Reiner Schreiber, former head of the Bonn Public Utilities on account of bribery" according to Apostel. The two gentlemen mentioned are "alleged to have assisted in the handling of these "transactions". Schreiber has admitted to accepting 1.45 million DM in kickbacks. Lüthy was unavailable for comment: 'He does not wish to make a statement,' came the response from his office in Zurich.

Swiss judiciary circles had emphasized up to this point that Lüthy and Bangerter were only information sources in the Bonn bribery affair, Germany would never prosecute them.

Those were false assumptions, as it now turns out, because the criminal proceedings have apparently been underway for a long time: They have been investigating the pair 'for at least for six months,' said Prosecuting Attorney Apostel: 'In addition, we made a formal request to Switzerland some time ago to interrogate Lüthy and Bangerter as persons charged with a criminal offense,' according to Apostel.

The Bonn prosecuting attorneys suspect Lüthy, who entered into a consulting agreement with Schreiber, of functioning as a "relay station" for bribery payments from ABB subsidiary companies to Schreiber. In addition, Lüthy, according to German investigators, is believed to have assisted Schreiber in tricking competitors of ABB subsidiaries in advanced negotiations for the assignment of large power station contracts by passing on information about offers revealed to him to ABB middlemen.

In the middle of April Von Roll vaguely confirmed such a connection to the SonntagsZeitung: Lüthy had allegedly been accused by the German authorities 'of forwarding money for information from the German ABB to Reiner Schreiber within the time period of the middle of 1996 to the beginning of 1998.'

Fritz Bangerter, head of Von-Roll-Deutschland [Germany] until the beginning of the nineties, also confirmed that he is involved in criminal proceedings. 'I have been cooperating with the investigators, I have answered all the questions put to me and handed over the files requested by the German authorities.' Bangerter admitted to having entered into a consulting agreement with Schreiber.

German investigators now suspect that dark transactions were concluded via his company in Zurich, Turicon.

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