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Last Updated: Friday, 20 April 2007, 10:34 GMT 11:34 UK
Siemens chair quits amid scandal
Heinrich von Pierer
Heinrich von Pierer denies any wrongdoing
Siemens chairman Heinrich von Pierer is to stand down next week, insisting he had no involvement in the ongoing slush fund scandal at the firm.

Mr Von Pierer also said he was not taking responsibility for the scandal, yet he did hope his successor could help lead the firm to "calmer waters".

He said he was leaving in Siemens' best interest, but after all his denials, he gave no real reason for his departure.

A number of senior staff have recently been arrested at the German giant.

'One's duty'

"I have always believed that one's duty to the company and its well over 400,000 employees worldwide must take priority over one's own interests," said Mr Von Pierer.

Siemens HQ in Munich
Investigations into alleged corruption at Siemens continue

"A personal responsibility regarding the current investigations was not the basis for my decision.

"The sole reason for my decision is to serve the best interests of Siemens. My goal is to support the company's sustained success," he said.

Mr Von Pierer is being replaced by fellow board member Gerhard Cromme.

The scandal at Siemens, which broke in November last year, surrounds allegations that the firm had a 200m euros ($272m; 103m) slush fund to help win overseas contracts.

German prosecutors have now arrested a number of current and former bosses at the firm, including the former head of Siemens' telecoms division, Thomas Ganswindt.

Siemens, which itself said it had uncovered as much as 420m euros in suspicious payments, protests its innocence as a company.

Its current chief executive Klaus Kleinfeld is now leading a major anti-corruption drive.

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