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Bribery scandal

Final defendants acquitted in Gazprom trial

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The final two defendants have been released in a trial over bribery at the Russian energy giant Gazprom, having been held at the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona. Two others were set free in April. 

On Tuesday, a former ABB manager from France and a Russian Gazprom manager were acquitted on charges of active and passive bribery.

As in April, their fate depended on whether Gazprom is considered a “national entity” and whether they could be considered “functional officers” of the Russian state. In both cases, the court sided with the defence in deciding that the defendants had not been acting in such a capacity. 

The court ordered the acquitted French businessman to assume some of the litigation costs because as a main defendant, he had caused the trial “in a legal sense”. The Russian also acquitted on Tuesday will be awarded compensation in the amount of CHF123,000 ($124,532) to account for seized assets. 

Swiss prosecutors had alleged that two defendants funnelled bribes from the construction of a gas pipeline from the Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery (SIT) company to Gazprom executives. The pipeline was being built between the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia and Germany. Another two defendants stood accused of accepting those bribes. 

The alleged bribes were paid between 2004 and 2006 and ended up in the bank accounts of both Gazprom managers in Switzerland. The investigation against Siemens was settled after Siemens admitted its fault and SIT turned over its gains of $10.6 million (CHF9.8 million).

Before it belonged to Siemens, SIT was part of the Swiss-Swedish ABB Group. Later, the company was taken over by the French Alstom and finally by German Siemens. 

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