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Former ABB bosses face criminal investigation

Percy Barnevick will be the subject of a criminal investigation

(Keystone)

Justice officials in Zurich are to launch a criminal investigation against two former directors of the Swiss-Swedish engineering firm, ABB.

District prosecutor Daniel Tewlin announced on Thursday his intention to launch a probe into the activities of two former CEOs, Percy Barnevik and Göran Lindahl, both of whom are suspected of misconduct.

There was public outcry earlier this year when it was revealed that Barnevik, who retired as CEO in 1996, received SFr148 million ($88 million) tax-free after more than 22 years with the company.

Lindahl, who succeeded Barnevik as CEO and left the company at the end of 2000, was promised SFr85 million in severance and pension benefits when he was forced out over a pension scandal.

Reaching a deal

In March, the board of ABB reached a deal with the two former CEOs, both of whom agreed to pay back a combined total of SFr137 million ($81.5 million) from their pension settlements.

The prosecutor's office said the investigation would also focus on those responsible for authorising the payments to Barnevik and Lindahl, as well as directors of the ABB management board.

Tewlin said he would be investigating what promises had been made as well as the exact terms of the settlements.

As early as last year, the ABB board itself started questioning how Barnevik's and Lindahl's payouts had been approved. They concluded that they had not been fully informed and promptly launched an in-depth internal and external review.

swissinfo with agencies

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