The nasties continue to emerge in the wake of Publicis Groupe-owned Leo Burnett in Athens which filed for bankruptcy last year after entering a disastrous media broking deal with Greek broadcaster Alter TV. Alter went bust last May, Burnett threw in the towel in December.
Now rather larger Greek broadcaster Antenna has filed criminal complaints against a number of Burnett and PG executives including former Burnett Greece CEO Petros Venetis and Burnett global CEO and PG main board director Mathias-Benjamin Emmerich, who began his career as an auditor.
PG says it had no option but to close Burnett Athens in the wake of the huge loss incurred with Alter collapsed and has offered TV station creditors 60 per cent of what it owed, while Antenna says it has only been offered 30 per cent. The sum at issue is believed to about €200m although it may turn out to be higher.
A PG spokesperson says: “We did everything possible to save the agency, but in vain, and in spite of the bankruptcy we offered partial compensation to the Greek media that almost all accepted, except Antenna. Every step we took was under the supervision of the Greek judicial authorities to whom the matter had been referred from the start of the difficulties in July, and who pronounced several decisions on this case.”
Antenna says: “Antenna is seeking the criminal indictment on the grounds of fraud under aggravating conditions. It is an offence that qualifies as a felony according to the Greek criminal code, punishable with imprisonment of five to ten years.”
Which is all rather alarming for the PG executives concerned and for the company itself. It looks as though PG boss Maurice Levy might have to grit his teeth and cough up some more money to save an even bigger embarrassment.