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Vivendi accuses T-Mobile of racketeering

Handbags at 20 paces

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The long-running spat between Vivendi and T-Mobile over ownership of Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa (PTC), the Polish network operator, took a surreal turn when Vivendi filed a charge that T-Mobile acquired their shares in the company though a process of fraud and racketeering. But rather than Poland, Austria or Germany, Vivendi have decided to file in the USA.

T-Mobile USA is, obviously enough, based in the USA, in Seattle, and charges have been filed under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, which was established to combat organised crime.

The spat between Vivendi and T-Mobile has been running for years, with the ownership of shares in PTC by Elektrim: a third party which apparently sold the shares to T-Mobile, being central to the dispute.

"Vivendi considers that T-Mobile and Mr. Solorz' Elektrim illegally appropriated its $2.5bn investment in PTC and, at every turn, have defied court orders," Vivendi Chairman Jean-Bernard Levy said in a statement.

But as Deutsche Telekom spokesman Michael Lange told Associated Press, this is only part of a “whole list of accusations that seem to have the objective of discrediting Deutsche Telekom as Vivendi is not able to convince the courts, either in Poland or Austria, as well as the relative courts of arbitration”

He also questioned the necessity of invoking US laws to address a European problem:

"That Vivendi now believes it needs to shift the legal case regarding a Polish company to the United States ... shows those responsible at Vivendi just want to be a nuisance."

The spat may look like a handbag fight, but there’s a lot of money at stake, even if a great deal of it is going to be spent on lawyers.

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