Gent confirmed as target in fraud inquiry

Did they, didn't they, did they take a bung?
Written by Aled Herbert, Contributor on

Did they, didn't they, did they take a bung?

A German regional court has confirmed that Vodafone CEO Chris Gent is one of the chief targets of its £32m fraud investigation The prosecutors allege that the Vodafone chief will be investigated for financial irregularities that occurred during the mobile giant's takeover of German rival Mannesmann last year. Gent is accused of sweetening the deal for then Mannesmann CEO Klaus Esser with a DM59m (£30m) redundancy payment with a further DM40m lining the pockets of around 20 other executives. Klaus Zwickel head of the influential IG Metall trade union and former Mannesmann supervisory board member was also confirmed as one of those under investigation. The Dusseldorf public prosecutor alleges that payoffs were bribes made to the German executives in an attempt to remove resistance to the record-breaking takeover. The investigation was launched in March following allegations from a Stuttgart-based law firm that Esser accepted the Vodafone takeover offer last year in exchange for the payment. Gent was the toast of UK business when he spearheaded the audacious takeover of Mannesmann in February 2000. However, the Vodafone chief has come under intense criticism recently for his multi-million pound bonuses. Although the investigation is unlikely to prove more than an irritation to Gent and other Vodafone executives it may provoke an official investigation by the company.
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