Former German manager on trial for bribing of Turkmenistan oil officials

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ASHGABAT (TCA) — A former manager of Germany’s MAN company has gone on trial in Munich on charges of bribing top officials at the Turkmen state oil company, RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service reported.

The trial of the 69-year-old former German manager continued on December 11 after starting two days before.

The man, whose name has not been disclosed, is suspected of transferring 8.4 million euros ($9.3 million) in 2002-07 to bank accounts controlled by Saparmammet Veliev, the head of the state-owned Turkmennebit company at the time, in exchange for multimillion-dollar contracts.

In 1999, Saparmurat Niyazov, Turkmenistan’s authoritarian leader at the time, issued a decree ordering Turkmennebit to allow MAN to build a compressor station for 233 million German marks ($126 million) in the oil fields near the Turkmen-Iranian border.

According to the prosecution, those making decisions in the Turkmen government requested bribes amounting to at least 5 percent of the contract value of the project.

German media reports say that the defendant said at the trial that corruption in the energy-rich Central Asian state was the norm and he did not want to jeopardize the deal, adding that when he took over MAN’s subsidiary, MAN GHH Gas & Oil, in 2000, the key decisions had already been made.

The man was charged with “bribery of foreign officials in complicity” in 2011. He initially faced trial in late 2016, but the hearings were postponed due to the defendant’s poor health.

His new defense lawyer called on the court to stop the proceedings because of the statute of limitations.

Veliev was fired in 2005 and later sentenced to 24 years in prison on corruption charges. He died in prison in October 2017.

Sergey Kwan

TCA