After a marathon trial, the criminal court in Skopje finally reached a verdict in the notorious Deutsche Telekom corruption scandal.
The trial affects only three managers of the Macedonian Telekom – Hungarian businessmen – who are sentenced to eight years in prison and will have to pay a million EUR to the budget. They were sentenced because they signed fake consulting contracts with a Cyprus based shell company.
The scandal was thoroughly investigated by the US authorities, using the corrupt foreign practices law, and led to fines for Deutsche Telekom in the US, for the way the company bribed politicians in Macedonia, through the Macedonian Telekom as its subsidiary. Emails and documents showed that the money paid out to the companies in Cyprus in 2005 were brought back to Macedonia and used as bribes for top politicians in the SDSM and DUI parties. In exchange, the Vlado Buckovski – Ali Ahmeti led Government agreed to keep the Macedonian market closed for competition, leaving Macedonian Telekom to compete only against a minor Greek owned telecom company for the lucrative mobile phone market.
The decision was reversed under the Nikola Gruevski Government, when serious competitors such as the Austrian and the Slovenian telecom entered Macedonia, leading to a drop in prices and massive expansion of the knowledge based economy. The investigation has not been expanded toward local politicians and was dragged out in court for over a decade.
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