Handelsblatt Exclusive

EWE Grid Operator Under Investigation

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    EWE is undergoing a leadership crisis that will be exacerbated by an internal investigation into corruption.

  • Facts


    • White-collar crime specialists investigating grid operator EWE Netz discovered a longstanding tradition of bribes and kickbacks in the company.
    • EWE Netz is also suspected of engaging in price fixing and demanding kickbacks from outside companies.
    • EWE is Germany’s fifth-largest energy supplier.
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75359878 Hauptverwaltung des Energieversorgers EWE
EWE's headquarters in Oldenburg, Lower Saxony. Source: Carmen Jaspersen/DPA

EWE, Germany’s fifth-largest energy supplier is under investigation from its own internal audit department over concerns managers may have demanded and received cash payments from business partners for years, Handelsblatt has learned.

The investigation comes as EWE, based in the Lower Saxony town of Oldenburg and majority-owned by local municipalities, is in the middle of a leadership crisis.

Chief Executive Officer Matthias Brückmann is accused of donating €253,000 ($267,000) to the Klitschko Foundation, set up by the superstar boxers Vitaly and Vladimir Klitschko, without following correct procedures.

The EWE supervisory board is expected to terminate Mr. Brückmann’s contract next week after the supervisors suspended him from his duties ten days ago. He could become the latest board member to quit amid suspicions of impropriety. In September 2016, board member Nikolaus Behr resigned, allegedly for ordering that a worker be spied on. Three months later, his fellow board member, Ines Kolmsee, resigned suddenly.

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