Appliance kickbacks under investigation

Two of Germany’s biggest appliance makers, Bosch and Siemens, may have provided illegal kickbacks to retailers willing to push their goods to customers, according to a report in the latest issue of Der Spiegel.

Appliance kickbacks under investigation
Photo: DPA

The allegations concern BSH, a joint venture between the German industrial giants, that sells household appliances such as washing machines, refrigerators and ranges. Last year, Munich-based BSH had 39,000 employees and revenues of €8.8 billion.

According to internal documents cited by Spiegel, BSH gave sales staff, including managers at large appliance retailers gift certificates good at retailer Karstadt or with travel agents TUI in exchange for pushing Bosch and Siemens products to customers.

The magazine says BSH spent more than €10 million a year on kickbacks and that the company’s top management, including CEO Kurt-Ludwig Gutberlet, was aware of the illegal practice.

The company confirmed Friday evening that Munich prosecutors were investigating its past marketing practices. A statement also said “possible unfair sales promotions practices from the past,” would be looked into by BSH’s internal compliance unit.

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German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.