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Europe

Not So 'Jolly'

8:00 AM -- Europe's courthouses have been busy passing judgment on some of the Old Continent's carrier executives recently, with mixed outcomes for some of the head honchos in Scandinavia and France.

First up, a bizarre case in Sweden, where Telia Company CEO Anders Igel and the carrier's former president Marie Ehrling found themselves in the dock after organizing a freebie (or 'jolly' as we call it here in Blighty) for customers.

According to the operator, here's what happened: "In early 2005, TeliaSonera invited major customers to an event comprising of information and demonstrations of new products and services combined with a performance of the musical Mamma Mia at the Circus theatre in Stockholm. The event was cancelled when TeliaSonera was accused of bribery and corruption in connection with the invitation."

Mamma Mia indeed!

The Stockholm District Court has today returned a verdict of not guilty in the case, though it's not all over for Igel and Ehrling. "We believe that we have only acted in accordance with common practice. We sincerely hope that the Public Prosecutor will accept this court's decision and allow the market and the State together to agree on the boundaries for an acceptable code of conduct."

But imagine the collective beads of sweat in marketing departments around the world if the verdict had been guilty...

In France, the case against Iliad (Euronext: ILD) founder Xavier Niel appears to have been a bit more clear cut. We reported on Niel's colorful past back in June 2004, when, following a year-long investigation into money laundering by the French prosecutor's office, Niel was charged with financing three peep shows that were suspected of housing an illegal sex-for-sale operation. (See Sex Shocker Socks Stock.)

Lack of evidence meant he was acquitted of those charges, but now Niel, currently deputy chairman and managing director of strategy at Iliad, has been found guilty of embezzling money from a sex shop in Strasbourg, and received a two-year suspended sentence and a €250,000 ($319,000) fine.

According to French media reports Niel declined to comment after last week's verdict, but in September this year, according to the Financial Times, he told the Le Monde newspaper he had "made a mistake. I shall be judged and sentenced, it's quite natural."

Of course, that's the translated version. We're hoping he actually said: "Pah! C'est la vie. Où sont les jolies filles et le champagne?"

But he probably didn't.

— Ray Le Maistre, Freebies and Scandal Editor, Light Reading

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