A judge has reportedly sent BT Italy and 21 defendants to court, including three former top executives, as part of the accounting scandal that took place in 2015 and 2016
In 2017, BT disclosed that massive fraud had taken place in its Italian business, resulting in a £530 million writedown that sent shares plummeting.
Prosecutors have alleged that the staff and executive of the Italian unit had been cooking the books, reporting exaggerated revenues, faked contracted renewals, and false supplier transactions, thereby hiding truth. Meanwhile, BT’s central leadership denied any hand in the scandal.
However, emails that came to light in 2019 could suggest “‘insistent’ requests by the leadership of the parent company aimed at achieving ambitious economic targets, even using aggressive, anomalous and knowingly wrong accounting practices,” according to a report prepared by Italian police.
Previously, BT has made a point of cooperating with Italian authorities, arguing that it was the injured party as a result of its Italian unit’s transgressions.
Preliminary investigations concluded in February 2019 and identified three BT group executives, all of whom have since left the company, as well as 23 further defendants.
Now, reports suggest that 21 of these defendants, including the three executives, are being called to stand trial in an Italian court over their alleged misconduct, with a trial date now set for January 26th 2021 in Milan. One of the 23 defendants had already been sentences to a year’s imprisonment in a related trial, while the company’s former CEO passed away last year.
The three remaining executives – Luis Alvarez and Richard Cameron, respectively former chief executive and former chief financial officer of BT Global Services, and Corrado Sciolla, formerly BT’s head of continental Europe – all maintain their innocence.
BT has previously argued that the claims being brought against the company are “unsubstantiated”.
Today, responding to Reuters, BT told the media that “we are disappointed. We remain confident in our defence.”
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