Tribunal fingers Vodacom lawyer

Tribunal fingers Vodacom lawyer

2008-07-24 19:08

Johannesburg - Vodacom's former lawyer, Eleni Christodoulou, was identified by the competition tribunal in April for having failed to supply it with sufficient documentation ahead of a merger between the mobile operator's subsidiary and a rival.

This comes amid further news today that an unnamed former Vodacom executive has been charged with perjury by the competition commission. The identity of the person has not been disclosed either by the commission or Vodacom.

The commission explained that criminal charges had been laid against a female because she: "Knowingly provided false information to the commission."

The information related to company minutes required by the commission in order to assess a merger Vodacom wanted to conclude between its subsidiary Vodacom Service Provider Company and Glocell and Global Telematics SA.

As things turned out, the minutes were eventually supplied to the competition tribunal, the final arbiter over mergers and takeovers. The minutes stated the merger with Glocell was because it was effectively undercutting Vodacom's subsidiary.

In original submissions to the commission, however, Vodacom supplied an altogether different reason for the merger. It said it was to derive synergies from a merger which was also a development in line with the global move towards consolidation.

Vodacom spokesperson, Dot Field, declined to confirm, however, that Christodoulou was the former executive referred to by the commission.

"Due to the seriousness of this matter, Vodacom cannot comment further," Field told "We have referred this matter to our attorneys for their immediate attention."

In its April document, the competition tribunal said: "Her [Christodoulou] affidavit omits to explain why she has in fact not provided each report or other document assessing the transaction with respect to competitive conditions - regarding the transaction.

"So while her affidavit may be technically true insofar as no documents submitted to the SRP has been omitted, Vodacom has not complied with the Act in submitting all the other relevant documentation required."

"If this was the approach taken in this transaction we are concerned that similar internal documentation may have been omitted from previous filings accompanied by the same thoroughly cynical, essentially deceitful affidavit."

The former Vodacom employee could face a fine of R2 000 or six months in prison - or both. -