The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has made an official request for help to Germany's Justice Ministry in its investigation into suspected bribery and corruption at Siemens, a newspaper said.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung said the Justice Ministry had not yet decided whether to hand over documents to the SEC, which is investigating whether Siemens employees paid hundreds of millions of euros in bribes for telecoms and other contracts.

The Justice Ministry was not immediately reachable for comment on Tuesday evening and the SEC declined comment. Siemens was also not immediately reachable.

Industrial conglomerate Siemens, whose chief executive and chairman resigned this year over the corruption affair, said in July it was widening its own investigation to include its turbines, transport and medical technology units, among others.

It said the sums involved were significantly higher than the 420 million euros ($571 million) in suspect payments it had been examining at its telecoms equipment unit.

The company faces the possibility of large fines or even U.S. sanctions that could exclude it from bidding for certain contracts as a result of the SEC investigation.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung, in an advance copy of an article to be published on Wednesday, said the German Justice Ministry had asked the Bavarian Justice Ministry for documents which it would then decide whether to hand over to the SEC.

A spokesman for the Ministry gave no timetable for its decision, the newspaper said.

Munich's top prosecutor Anton Winkler, who is also conducting an investigation, said on Monday investigators from the SEC had asked to meet German colleagues this week for what he described as an introductory session.

He said he still expected first charges could be filed later this year.