A BT (British Telecom) company logo is pictured on the side of a convention centre in Liverpool northern England.
London - British Telecom has filed a criminal complaint with Italian prosecutors over an accounting scandal at its Italian unit and has handed them computer records and also dispatched its head of compliance to Milan to give evidence.

In the complaint, filed on March 21, BT accuses several former Italy executives and other employees of breaking company rules and unlawful conduct. It comes five months after the phone company first revealed financial irregularities at BT Italy and took the first of two write-downs totalling £530 million (R8.88 billion).

The complaint is consistent with allegations of irregularities and bullying first made public on March 30. A BT official at the time declined to comment when asked if the company had filed a complaint.

Reuters first saw the complaint, which typically is not a document that is made publicly available, earlier this week.

The investigation found that a network of people in BT Italy had exaggerated revenues, faked contract renewals and invoices and invented bogus supplier transactions in order to meet bonus targets and disguise the unit’s true financial performance. All of these practices had been going on since at least 2013, current and former staff have said.

The BT complaint asserts to prosecutors, who began investigating the unit’s accounting problems in January, that BT is itself a victim of any fraud found to have taken place.

Read also: BT cuts 2017 and 2018 outlook

The company’s director of ethics and compliance, Gareth Tipton, met Italian magistrates in Milan in the second half of February, two sources with knowledge of the investigation said. BT also gave prosecutors computer records collected during an internal investigation at the Italian unit in late summer 2016, the sources said.

BT spokesperson Gemma Thomas said: “We cannot comment on the ongoing investigation.”The complaint alleges misconduct against three former senior executives of BT Italy and two former employees, though it does not make a specific criminal accusation against any of them.

It alleges former BT Italy chief executive Gianluca Cimini was responsible for grave violations of corporate governance rules in relation to contracts and suppliers, and it alleges former chief operating officer Stefania Truzzoli manipulated results that were used to award staff bonuses and that she also manipulated data that was communicated to BT Europe during the internal presentation of results.