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Ex-Mercedes exec for east Europe convicted of embezzlement

October 24, 1997

STUTTGART, Germany (AP) _ A former Mercedes-Benz AG executive was convicted Friday of pocketing about 5 million marks, or $2.9 million, during his three-year tenure as head of the luxury carmaker’s operations in Eastern Europe.

Hans Dieter Fink, 56, was sentenced to five years and three months in prison for embezzlement, fraud and extortion.

``He couldn’t resist the temptation to skim off some for his own pocket,″ Judge Udo Heissler said.

Both sides said they would accept the verdict.

Fink was fired in May 1994 and became a fugitive 10 months later. He was arrested in October 1996 on the French Riviera and has been held in investigative custody in Stuttgart since his extradition in April.

The court found he diverted about 4 million marks in commissions from Mercedes dealers to his own account instead of to Mercedes, and extorted another 1.1 million marks from a dealer by threatening to delay delivery on specially ordered cars.

Fink had confessed to taking the money, but said nothing about the extortion counts.

He has repaid Mercedes about 2.3 million marks, which the judge said was a moderating factor in sentencing. Fink could have faced up to 10 years behind bars.

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