Mannheim Public Prosecutor’s office announced they are currently reviewing whether official preliminary proceedings against Germany based company Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg (EnBW) will be initiated. Possible charges comprise embezzlement, tax evasion and bribery. Mannheim prosecutors, specialized in white-collar crime, took over the case from Karlsruhe Public Prosecutor’s office where the proceedings were investigated since September 2011.
EnBW, one of Germany’s largest energy corporations, is under investigation because of business connections with Russian lobbyist Andrey Bykov. Between 2005 and 2008 EnBW paid EUR 120 million to companies connected with Mr Bykov – according to EnBW among other services for the delivery and securing of uranium. Since these services apparently have never been provided, EnBW is currently reclaiming the money in arbitration proceedings.
The prosecutors’ attention was attracted when Mr Bykov claimed that in fact the services EnBW presented as matter of the contractual relationships never were agreed upon. According to Mr Bykov EnBW paid the money for lobbying services, the real purpose of the business relationships, which the parties deliberately concealed in their set of agreements. Thus the German energy giant paid the companies linked to Mr Bykov for lobby work aimed at EnBW obtaining access to Russian gas fields without the knowledge of its major shareholder Electricité des France (EdF) who disagreed with the involvement in Siberia.
Meanwhile the two involved companies controlled by Mr Bykov (Eurepa Suisse S.A. and Pro Life Systems S.A.) have sued EnBw for payments that amount to EUR 120 million – EnBW believes these actions were taken to avoid possible reimbursement. However, due to the fact that a required advance payment on court fees has not been made the case is not pending in court yet.
While it is not clear yet who would be the target of possible charges, a prosecution of the members of the board of management at the time is widely considered as the most likely scenario. Utz Claassen, the former CEO of EnBW, told German Handelsblatt through his counsel he knew nothing of the proceedings.