Vienna prosecutors probe Telekom Austria CEO

VIENNA Thu Nov 8, 2012 9:56am GMT

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VIENNA Nov 8 (Reuters) - Austrian prosecutors said on Thursday they are investigating Telekom Austria Chief Executive Hannes Ametsreiter and former company officials on suspicion of breach of trust.

Telekom Austria dismissed the accusations against its CEO as "incomprehensible".

A spokesman for the Vienna prosecutors office confirmed media reports that the probe centred on Telekom Austria's rental of a Vienna theatre via a media company to host public viewings of the 2008 European soccer championships.

The authorities are looking into whether some of the 1.4 million euros ($1.8 million) the company paid for the rental contract may have been diverted for "bribe payments or covert financing of a political party", NEWS magazine said.

Telekom Austria said the investigation arose from a complaint filed anonymously with prosecutors in May. "The accusations it contains are incomprehensible in the company's view," it added.

It confirmed Ametsreiter and others were targets of the investigation, but noted Ametsreiter - who was marketing chief at the time and became CEO in 2009 - was not involved in 2007 in negotiating the contract, which other officers had signed.

The company said it had given investigators all the relevant documents and said internal auditors had not detected any irregularities in the matter.

Prosecutors and a parliamentary investigative panel have for months been examining payoffs and perks financed by Telekom Austria, an ex-monopoly now partly state owned.

The company is trying to claw back 20 million euros from people suspected of bilking it in a web of corruption scandals that have damaged its image.

($1 = 0.7840 euros) (Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Erica Billingham)

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