Sunday 5 September 2021 1:06 pm

Serious Fraud Office probing O2 bribery allegations

Telecoms giant O2 is being investigated Serious Fraud Office reportedly over allegations of bribery involving the company’s executives.

The company revealed in a financial statement that it is cooperating with the SFO, following its merger with Virgin Media.

O2’s recent £31bn merger with Virgin Media makes the new company the UK’s largest network, ahead of BT and EE.

The investigation disclosure, first revealed by the Sunday Telegraph, comes after years of rumours that the firm is being investigated by the watchdog.

Industry insiders told the Telegraph that the probe concerns allegations that former O2 executives were involved with the payment of kickbacks with customers.

The firm’s recent financial statement read: “O2 has been addressing a request for disclosure made by governmental authorities which is related to possible violations of anti-bribery laws and regulations.

“O2 continues to co-operate with the governmental authorities investigating this matter which is still ongoing.”

The company reported that there was an accrual recorded in O2’s 2019 account due to the predicted outcome of the probe, but would not disclose any other details of potential financial impact.

The telecommunications industry saw extensive claims of kickbacks on major deals in the latter part of the 2010s, with things like holidays and cars often discussed.

Virgin Media O2 is refusing to comment on the investigation.