Deutsche Telekom plans probe on alleged phone monitoring

Deutsche Telekom has pledged to investigate allegations that phone calls involving managers and journalists were monitored in efforts to trace potential leaks, an Associated Press report said.

The allegations were reported over the weekend by Der Spiegel magazine. CEO Rene Obermann pledged a thorough investigation and warned that if it emerges that anyone has broken the law that would 'result in severe consequences,' an Associated Press report said.

Der Spiegel, citing unidentified people familiar with the case, said an anonymous document had been faxed to Deutsche Telekom in Bonn claiming that company officials had monitored the phone calls of business journalists, board members and even shareholders.

In a statement, Deutsche Telekom said it had found what it called indications of 'illegal and improper use' of phone calls made to and from both landlines and cell phones in 2005 and 2006.

Obermann said the company had asked a Cologne-based law firm to conduct an investigation of the claims and would pursue criminal charges if appropriate.

'I am deeply shocked by the allegations. We take the process very seriously,' he said.

Deutsche Telekom has not said what exactly was being monitored, but the timing dovetailed with efforts by the company to cut salaries and jobs as it sought to curb expenses.

The German government said it was confident that Obermann, who became CEO in November 2006 after previously heading its T-Mobile wireless division, would tackle the allegations satisfactorily.

'We welcome all measures taken by the board and by prosecutors"&brkbar; There is no reason at all to call into question our confidence in Mr. Obermann,' Finance Ministry spokesman Torsten Albig said.

Albig said the government wants a speedy clarification of the alleged activities at the company.