German railway boss apologizes for staff account snooping

6th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

Deutsche Bahn has acknowledged that it compared bank account numbers of around 173,000 workers with those of suppliers to detect possible illicit transactions.

Frankfurt -- Deutsche Bahn boss Hartmut Mehdorn apologized to staff Friday for using their personal data in a widespread campaign against corruption at the German railway, a spokesman said.

Mehdorn presented the apology during a meeting of the railway's works committee, the spokesman said, a move which might also contribute to saving his job amid growing pressure for him to resign.

Deutsche Bahn has acknowledged that it compared bank account numbers of around 173,000 workers with those of suppliers to detect possible illicit transactions.

An outside company did the work and unions were not informed.

Mehdorn and the railway received criticism not only for the operation itself, but also for the sparing accounts they provided in response to queries.

He initially claimed that nothing was done illegally and that he was ready to resume such actions if necessary to fight corruption. This week, he toned down his response and admitted he had committed "errors."

His formal apology came a few days later.

German press reports say Mehdorn will likely retain his post until general elections in September, despite the outcry sparked by the affair, due to the current political balance in the country.

The left-right coalition now in power would find it difficult to agree on a new boss for the last major German public monopoly while campaigning against each other, observers say.

AFP/Expatica

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