Telekom Austria faces forensic probe

Forensic investigators in the offices of Telekom Austria might sound like the European version of hit TV show CSI, but these guys are seeking out financial rather than real skeletons in the closet.
The operator hired investigators from BDO Deutschland a week ago in a bid to finally get to the bottom of financial problems between 2000 and 2004, and to establish procedures to ensure such problems don’t occur again in the future.
Investigators must probe the firm’s finances in the years leading up to an IPO in 2004, after a former Telekom Austria staffer confessed to influencing the firm’s stock price to trigger the sale. The admission prompted chief executive Hannes Ametsreiter to return his post-IPO bonus, despite not being involved in the deception.
In addition to the forensic investigators, BDO has sent experts in compliance and fraud prevention, to advise on improvements to Telekom Austria’s compliance set-up. The operator earnestly states the team was subject to a rigorous selection process, with particular emphasis on ensuring financial separation from Telekom Austria.

Results of the probe are due to be presented at Telekom Austria’s AGM next spring, but the firm hints it may take longer to know the full extent of the financial malpractice, stating the scope of the investigation could yet be extended to include the period 2005 to 2010.