Infineon rocked by bribery claims

A member of the board of German chip firm Infineon has offered to step down following allegations of bribery.

Andreas von Zitzewitz, the firm said, was under investigation “in context with payments made for contracts regarding motorsport sponsorship”.

Dr von Zitzewitz led the firm’s memory chip unit, the core of operations at Europe’s second-biggest chip maker.

The resignation is the second time this month that a German firm has lost an executive over corruption allegations.

On 9 July, Volkswagen personnel chief Peter Hartz offered to step down in order to take responsibility for suspected irregularities carried out by some of his subordinates.

In a statement on 16 July, Infineon acknowledged that two of its staff were being investigated, and said a Munich prosecutor had searched both the group’s headquarters and the homes of several directors.

But it said the probe was into individuals, and that the company itself was not suspected of wrongdoing. Infineon was offering full co-operation, it said.

The investigation appears to centre on allegations of kickbacks for persuading Infineon suppliers to sponsor motor racing teams.

“Dr von Zitzewitz declared his resignation to spare the company the burden of the ongoing investigation and to be able to concentrate fully on the expected court case,” the firm said.

Infineon has experienced hard times in recent months, with the first three months of the year producing a loss of 114m euros (£78m; $148m) along with a gloomy outlook for sales later in the year.

In 2004, it admitted to a US court that it had engaged in price-fixing and was fined $160m.

Four German executives at the firm have paid individual fines as well, and could face jail terms of up to six months.

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