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Kempinski hotels press charges against ex-CEO

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Kempinski hotels press charges against ex-CEO
Photo: Peter Kuley
23:27 CET+01:00
The Swiss luxury hotel chain Kempinski is pressing criminal charges against its former president and chief executive Reto Wittwer, who is suspected of embezzling around $6 million, it confirmed on Sunday.

A spokeswoman for the group, headquartered in Geneva, confirmed a report in the SonntagsZeitung weekly stating that Wittwer was suspected of pocketing around six million Swiss francs ($6 million).
   
The group announced last week that it had filed criminal charges against him in Switzerland for "alleged professional misconduct and fraud" and suspicion he "defrauded Kempinski of significant sums of money", but had not previously divulged the sum involved.
   
Wittwer flatly rejected the hotel chain's allegations, telling the online magazine Hospitalityinside they were "absolutely defamatory", and said he would "take all possible legal action against these allegations".
   
Wittwer headed the luxury hotel chain for nearly two decades, but was forced out after suspicions arose in October last year, according to Kempinski, which said it had been conducting an internal investigation since then.
   
The hotel chain accused Wittwer of pocketing funds even during periods when it was forced to make drastic cuts to its budget and labour costs.
   
"Kempinski, and everyone associated with the company, has been badly let down by someone in whom we placed our full trust," the company's current chief Alejandro Bernabe lamented in the statement.
   
"The high responsibilities of executive office and the fundamental values on which Kempinski has carefully built its business have, we believe, been deliberately flouted in the pursuit of personal greed and unlawful gain," he said, adding: "We are treating this matter with the utmost seriousness."
   
Kempinski, which was founded in 1897 and claims to be Europe's oldest luxury hotel group, today counts 78 five-star hotels in 33 countries.

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