Deutsche Telekom management board member Thomas Kremer, who has been in charge of data privacy, legal affairs and compliance at the telecommunications company for more than two years, won’t be able to shake off his past at one of the largest steel makers in Europe, Thyssen-Krupp.
In an antitrust investigation against the steelmaker, several defendants have announced their intention to expose what they view as glaring deficiencies in compliance in connection with the sale of steel for railroad tracks at a time when Mr. Kremer was chief compliance officer at Thyssen-Krupp.
Prosecutors are accusing 14 former managers at the steelmaker and other companies of fixing prices in the German railway steel market for years. According to internal records of the companies allegedly involved, the price fixing resulted in a cost of about €1 billion ($1.31 billion) to German taxpayers, who ultimately pay for most of the railway track laid in Germany.
At least two of the defendants intend to prove that Thyssen-Krupp’s compliance department exercised poor control in the hope of weakening the prosecution’s charges against them.
This places Mr. Kremer at the center of the case, which will likely come before a regional court in Essen early next year. As the chief legal officer at Thyssen-Krupp between 2003 and June 2012, Mr. Kremer, a native of Bonn, was expected to ensure that the group’s business transactions complied with the law.
The rail cartel, which was only exposed in the spring of 2011, wasn’t the only criminal intrigue for which Thyssen-Krupp was used as a cover. Employees also formed cartels in other areas and paid bribes to kick-start contracts.