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Shareholder advocate wants new Siemens chairman

Gerhard Cromme, chairman of the supervisory board of Siemens AG, in 2006 (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)An influential U.S. shareholder advisor has recommended voting against Siemens’ long time chairman at the company’s annual meeting Wednesday, according to a report by Dow Jones.

Glass, Lewis & Co. LLC said Gerhard Cromme also leads ThyssenKrupp AG, a German steel maker facing price fixing allegations. He was serving as chairman of Siemens when it was accused of overseas bribery.

Germany-based Siemens settled an FCPA enforcement action with the DOJ and SEC in 2008. The $800 million settlement is the biggest FCPA case of all time. Siemens paid a similar amount in fines and penalties to resolve related charges in Germany.

Glass Lewis reportedly said Siemens’ institutional shareholders would be better protected ‘by the election of individuals who are neither associated with the company’s bribery scandal nor ongoing legal concerns and oversight failures at other companies.’

Dow Jones said, ‘ThyssenKrupp’s top management on Friday fended off fierce criticism from shareholders over disastrous investment in steel mills abroad and a string of scandals that has raised questions over the company’s governance rules. Mr. Cromme came under pressure from shareholders at the ThyssenKrupp meeting over his role in the recent scandals which include allegations of price fixing.’

Cromme was part of Siemens’ audit committee when overseas bribery was occurring, Glass Lewis said.

Two other institutional shareholder advisors have endorsed Cromme’s re-election, according to Dow Jones.

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