UK News: BT faces court over £530m Italian fraud as law firm in Enron victory targets telecoms giant - PressFrom - United Kingdom
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UK NewsBT faces court over £530m Italian fraud as law firm in Enron victory targets telecoms giant

02:40  14 august  2019
02:40  14 august  2019 Source:   thisismoney.co.uk

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Telecoms group’s chief refuses to say if he will hand back any of his bonuses as it is confirmed Europe head has resigned. BT is facing at least two shareholder lawsuits in the US, accusing the company and its senior executives of securities fraud .

The feared American law firm that won Enron investors a record £6billion is targeting BT over its Italian accounting scandal.

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd is set to file a case against the telecoms giant within days on behalf of US shareholders, the Mail understands.

The defendants named in the lawsuit include BT as well as former chief executives Gavin Patterson and Lord Livingston.

BT faces court over £530m Italian fraud as law firm in Enron victory targets telecoms giant © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The defendants named in the lawsuit include BT as well as former chief executives Gavin Patterson (pictured) and Lord Livingston

The law firm is seeking to recover damages shareholders suffered when BT disclosed a massive fraud at its Italian business.

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The announcement two years ago – and an accompanying £530million writedown – sent the shares crashing by a fifth and wiped almost £8billion off its market value.

BT accused staff and bosses at the foreign division of cooking the books to artificially inflate earnings, behind the backs of UK bosses. But the lawsuit brought on behalf of US investors takes aim at BT executives in London as well.

It disputes claims they were ‘kept in the dark’ about problems in Italy and accuses them of withholding crucial information from the market.

BT has tried to put the scandal behind it but Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd is notorious in the US for its successful class action lawsuits after it most famously secured a £6billion settlement for Enron investors, whose holdings became worthless after the oil giant crumbled in a 2001 accounting scandal.

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BT ’s offices in Italy have been raided by police as part of an investigation into a £ 530 million accounting scandal. The telecoms company confirmed that Italian law enforcement officials conducted the raid Italian prosecutors said they had launched a criminal investigation into the alleged fraud in January.

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As well as Patterson and Livingston, the lawsuit names former finance chief Tony Chanmugam, current audit committee chairman Nick Rose and former BT Italy chief Luis Alvarez as defendants.

BT says the claims are ‘unsubstantiated’ and is seeking to have them dismissed, after a previous attempt by Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd was thrown out last year.

BT faces court over £530m Italian fraud as law firm in Enron victory targets telecoms giant © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The 353-page report claimed BT executives in London were at the heart of the scandal and put pressure on Italian staff to hit tough targets

But lawyers at the US firm are expected to put forward a new version of the class action lawsuit on Friday, bolstered by recent revelations, including an explosive dossier prepared by Italian police.

The 353-page report claimed BT executives in London were at the heart of the scandal and put pressure on Italian staff to hit tough targets using ‘aggressive, anomalous and knowingly wrong accounting practices’.

Call centre staff called fraud victims 'morons', misled callers and 'slept on the job'

Call centre staff called fraud victims 'morons', misled callers and 'slept on the job' Four call centre staff have been suspended after victims of fraud were allegedly misled into thinking they were dealing with police, and branded ‘morons’ and ‘screwballs’. A report by the Times alleged that staff at the Action Fraud call centre, which handles reports from victims of fraud across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, were trained to mislead victims into thinking they were speaking to police officers. Callers were also branded “morons” and “screwballs” and staff were told not to let them know about a scoring system which meant some reports were not classified as crimes, the newspaper alleged.

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A secret review by auditor KPMG for BT also found finance bosses in Britain failed to challenge Italian accounts.

Patterson, Livingston and Chanmugam are accused of signing off misleading statements that claimed internal controls were operating effectively while, in fact, a massive financial fraud was on-going.

The law firm has also seized on comments by Alvarez that fraudulent dealings were signed off by former auditors PwC and the parent company in London.

It alleges BT’s audit committee, chaired by Rose, ‘was aware of sustained problems in Italy throughout 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, and ‘cryptically reported questionable practices’.

Patterson was BT’s chief executive from September 2013 until January 2019. Livingston, handed a peerage and made a trade minister in David Cameron’s government, ran the group from 2008 to 2013.

He is chairman of electronics retailer Dixons Carphone and investment firm Man Group. The peer and both companies declined to comment.

BT said: ‘We maintain that these claims are unsubstantiated and will move to dismiss any further amended complaint.’

Fraud helpline staff 'mocked and ignored victims' and branded them 'morons' and 'screwballs', new report claims.
A fraud helpline is misleading victims by suggesting their cases will be investigated even though most are dismissed out of hand, it was reported last night. An undercover probe found that managers at Action Fraud mocked victims as 'morons', 'screwballs' and 'psychos', while staff are trained to trick callers into thinking they are talking to the police. Last year an estimated 3.6million online and cold-calling scams were carried out. However, as few as one in 50 fraud reports lead to a suspect being caught.

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