Fraud Investigation at German Phone Company
BONN, Germany (AP) _ Authorities in at least two German cities are investigating fraud against the state-owned telephone monopoly Deutsche Bundespost Telekom, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Telekom spokesman Juergen Kindervater denied a report in the International Herald Tribune that hundreds of Telekom employees could be involved in a scam worth hundreds of millions of dollars. No employees are under investigation, he said.
Prosecutors in Cologne and Duesseldorf gave few details about the targets and nature of their investigations. Officials referred a reporter to Telekom for comment.
Telekom is to be sold to investors starting next year in Europe’s biggest privatization. Estimates of Telekom’s total worth range as high as $60 billion.
The Paris-based Tribune reported that Telekom employees teamed with organized crime figures bilked the company and its customers of up to 500 million German marks (dlrs 300 million) per year.
The Tribune, which quoted unnamed industry sources, said employees arranged the fraud and divided the profits with outside criminals.
Rolf Chanteaux, a spokesman for the Duesseldorf prosecutor, said the investigation by his office stemmed from a Telekom complaint against another company, which he would not name.
He said it involved the use of computers to make illegal phone calls that were then charged to unwitting Telekom customers.
That probe is separate from an investigation in Cologne, where prosecutors would say only they were looking into computer fraud involving Telekom.