Swisscom CEO says Fastweb victim of fraud-paper

ZURICH, March 13 (BestGrowthStock) – The chief executive of Swisscom
AG (SCMN.VX: ) said Fastweb (FWB.MI: ) was a victim of fraud, a
Swiss paper reported on Saturday, the second time the CEO has
come out in defence of his company’s subsidiary.

Fastweb and its CEO Stefano Parisi are being investigated as
part of an Italian probe, which has led to the arrest of
Fastweb’s founder Silvio Scaglia and sent shockwaves through
Italy’s telecoms sector and business and political circles.

Prosecutors allege money was laundered via fictitious
international phone service purchases and sales worth more than
2 billion euros ($2.76 billion) between 2003 and 2006, carried
out with the knowledge of top executives at Fastweb and Telecom
Italia SpA’s (TLIT.MI: ) Sparkle unit.[ID:nLDE61P161]

Both Fastweb and Sparkle have denied any wrongdoing and say
they are victims in the case.

“Telecom Italia and Fastweb are the victims of a fraud,” the
French-language Le Temps quoted Swisscom’s Carsten Schloter as
saying.

“If the courts determine finally that Fastweb carried out
its due diligence correctly, the group should be able to
recuperate 70 million euros in value-added tax,” he said.

An Italian court is expected to decide soon on whether to
appoint special administrators to run Fastweb and Sparkle.

“We’ve asked ourselves if we could have discovered the
criminal dimension at the time (2007). And I must say ‘not at
all’,” Schloter was quoted as saying.

Swisscom has said it had been aware of an investigation into
tax evasion when it acquired Fastweb and that it had sought two
separate opinions from tax consultants on the matter at the time.

The consultants found that the transactions in question were
correct.

Fastweb, Italy’s no. 2 telecoms operator, is controlled by
Swisscom, the Alpine state’s largest phone company and in which
the Swiss government holds stake of more than 50 percent.

Schloter said it was unlikely Swisscom would take a hit to
goodwill for Fastweb that it currently puts at 2.6 billion Swiss
francs.

“If it meets its growth targets, there’s no reason to. So
long as we don’t loose big commercial clients of Fastweb’s
activities collapse entirely, the goodwill will remain
unchanged. Up to now there’s been no negative sign.”

Schloter was quoted as saying on March 4 that he saw no
reason to stop backing Parisi. [ID:nLDE6231RT]

Schloter also told Le Temps he was open to an acquisition in
Switzerland.

“Abroad, things need to calm down and cleared up. In
Switzerland, however, I see no obstacles for new buys.
especially in the IT domain.”

For a factbox on the probe, see [ID:nLDE6210RD]

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($1=.7257 Euro)

Swisscom CEO says Fastweb victim of fraud-paper