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How to Lose a Job Without Even Starting

After looking into possible corruption, Siemens revokes its recent appointment of a CFO who was to take the post January 1.
Stephen TaubDecember 14, 2007

In a somewhat bizarre turn of events, Siemens says it has revoked the appointment of Hannes Apitzsch as CFO of the company’s industry sector following a corruption investigation.

The German electronics giant made the decision after examining investigation records of the Nuremberg public prosecutor’s office, which is trying to determine whether Siemens employees made payments to labor organization AUB without receiving commensurate services in return, Reuters reported.

Siemens’s investigation of Apitzsch required a reevaluation of his compliance screening by the U.S. law firm Debevoise & Plimpton and the company’s own lawyers.

Apitzsch remains with the company for now, but not in the CFO spot. His appointment to that role, which was to be effective January 1, was announced on December 7 as part of a reorganization of Siemens into three sectors: industry, energy, and health care.

“Siemens aims at standing for the highest performance at the highest ethical level,” says Peter Löscher, president and CEO of Siemens. “This is also a fundamental principle in appointing our managers. We will not tolerate uncertainties of any kind.”

German authorities are looking into whether Wilhelm Schelsky, the former head of AUB, is linked to suspicious payments of at least $20.6 million in the past five years, according to the Associated Press. Siemens has said that Schelsky had provided it with advice on employee training and other issues, but that his contract with the company was canceled at the end of 2006, the AP wrote.

IG Metall, Germany’s largest industrial union, has claimed that Siemens may have financed the much smaller AUB in an effort to build it into a rival for the union.