NORWAY - The ministry of finance has decided to place Siemens under observation following allegations of corruption.
The move comes as the German police are investigating allegations that Siemens had a €200m (US$260m) slush fund to help win overseas contracts.
Siemens itself said it had found suspicious payments worth some €420m, and was carrying out its own investigation - also hiring an outside anti-corruption expert and a law firm to examine and revise Siemens' own anti-corruption safeguards.
Norwegian minister of finance Kristin Halvorsen said: "Siemens are now in the public eye and the company has initiated a range of anticorruption measures. By placing the company under observation we will contribute to keeping up the momentum on the anti-corruption efforts."
The fund's council on ethics had earlier recommended that the company be excluded because of the risk of involvement in gross corruption.
The minister added: "By placing the company under observation we, as an investor, can signal that we expect the [anti-corruption] measures to be implemented as intended."
As at 31 December 2008 the Government Pension Fund - Global owned Siemens shares for NOK6.3bn (US$936m) - representing 1.34% of the voting shares.
In addition, the ministry of finance has excluded the Chinese company Dongfeng Motor Group from the Government Pension Fund - Global, due to the fact the company sells military trucks to Burma.
Halvorsen said: "We cannot finance companies that support the military dictatorship in Burma through the sale of military materials."
The ministry of finance amended its ethical guidelines in October 2008. "These changes meant that the fund's assets can no longer be invested in companies that sell weapons or other military materials to Burma, and this is the first time the new exclusion criteria regarding the sale of weapons and military materials to Burma has been applied," said Halvorsen.
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