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Kempinski sues former CEO for alleged fraud

Europe News
Kempinski sues former CEO for alleged fraud

A luxury meetings hotel group is pressing criminal charges against its former chief executive.

A spokesman for the Swiss hotel chain Kempinski has confirmed SonntagsZeitung newspaper reports that Reto Wittwer is suspected of embezzling around 6m Swiss francs (£4m)

The company announced last week that it had filed criminal charges against Wittwer in Switzerland for “alleged professional misconduct and fraud” and suspicion he “defrauded Kempinski of significant sums of money”, but had not previously revealed the sum involved.

Wittwer has 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 when it was forced to make drastic cuts to its budget and labour costs.

The company’s current chief, Alejandro Bernabe said: “Kempinski, and everyone associated with the company, has been badly let down by someone in whom we placed our full trust. 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. We are treating this matter with the utmost seriousness.”

Kempinski was founded in 1897 and is one of Europe’s oldest luxury meetings hotel groups, with 78 five-star hotels in 33 countries in its portfolio.