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Siemens files charges against ex-pension manager

SWITZERLAND - Siemens' Swiss arm has filed criminal charges against Roland Rümmeli, the former investment head of its pension fund (Pensionskasse), but has not disclosed the nature of the charges.

"We currently do not want to give the reason as it might jeopardise the investigation," a spokesman for Siemens Switzerland said.
 
The spokesman added that the impetus for the criminal charges came from an external investigation of the fund's relationship with Swiss bank Swissfirst.

Meanwhile, it emerged today that two of the six Swiss Pensionskassen embroiled in the Swissfirst affair have been vindicated by an official investigation. The schemes are for Swiss drugs giant Roche and the supermarket chain Coop.

Last week, Swiss authorities found no evidence of wrong doing at Rieter Pensionskasse, a CHF955m (€603bn) fund for a Swiss industrial firm.

An official investigation of Siemens Pensionskasse, Ist-Investmentstiftung, a CHF8.3bn fund aimed at the public sector and Publica, a CHF30bn scheme insuring federal employees, continues.

The investigation was launched last summer after the six Pensionskassen were found to have made what appeared to be dubious equity trades with Swissfirst in September 2005.

In the investigation, Zurich's public prosecutor jailed Rümmeli - a key figure in the Swissfirst affair - from early September to early October.

The new charges against Rümmeli come more than a week after he agreed to repay Siemens CHF400,000 in kickbacks that he received while at the Pensionskasse.

However, authorities have traced the kickbacks not to Swissfirst, but to a hedge fund called Auriga. The payments, which actually totalled CHF500,000, were made in exchange for Rümmeli investing some of Siemens Pensionskasse's money in the Auriga fund.

Siemens has also reserved the right to demand more compensation from Rümmeli.

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