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Vodafone investigating former Ono managers over VAT fraud

ONOVodafone is investigating responsibility for possible fraud at Spanish cable operator cable operator Ono ahead of its acquisition by the mobile giant.

According to Spanish press reports, Vodafone is investigating whether possible irregularities in the sale of international calling minutes by Ono to avoid VAT payments.

According to daily El País, citing sources familiar with the operation, four Ono employees have been held responsible for the alleged fraud, three of whom are no longer with the company.

However, given the sums involved, amounting to call sales totaling over €200 million, Vodafone is investigating whether three key former senior managers – president José Maria Castellano, CEO Rosalía Portela and finance director Carlos Sagasta – had knowledge of the fraud.

According to El País, Vodafone was not aware of an ongoing investigation into the VAT fraud by Spanish authorities until shortly before it completed the purchase of Ono in July.

According to El Confidencial newspaper, Vodafone has decided to suspend bonuses amounting to €65 million awarded to the three executives related to the sale agreement, as a result of a forensic investigation by Deloitte involving the examination of seized laptops. El Confidencial said that Vodafone had declined to comment on this, or to confirm or deny that it intended to submit a complaint against the three.