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OHB-System "Suspends" CEO over WikiLeaks Galileo Comments

berry_smutny_OHB_lorez.jpgBerry Smutny. OHB-System photo
January 18, 2011
Inside GNSS, January/February 2011

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Berry Smutny has become the first GNSS casualty in the WikiLeaks war.

The CEO of OHB-System AG was suspended  on Monday (January 17, 2011) "with immediate effect," according to the company.

OHB-System AG, the German company building the Galileo operational satellites, dismissed Smutny as the result of comments about the Galileo program that he reportedly made to U.S. embassy officials in Berlin, which appeared recently in documents released by WikiLeaks and published by Norway's Aftenposten newspaper on January 13. When the news reports first appeared, the company had initially backed Smutny with a statement by Manfred Fuchs, chairman of the supervisory board.

In a January 17 press statement, however, the company said that OHB-System's General Assembly had voted to remove its confidence in Smutny. Subsequently, the company's "Supervisory Board passed a unanimous resolution to revoke Mr. Smutny’s appointment to the position of CEO of the company. This was in response to the fact that over the past few weeks the Norwegian daily “Aftenposten” had repeatedly published and commented on documents recording the contents of a conversation between Mr. Smutny and diplomats at the US embassy in Berlin. The Supervisory Board disapproves these conversations and the quotes attributed to Mr. Smutny."

The company's statement added that the General Assembly and the Supervisory Board "saw no alternative to this decision in order to effectively avert any further damage to the company on the part of customers, political representatives and the public at large."

Marco R. Fuchs, the CEO of the parent company OHB Technology AG, will additionally be assuming the position of CEO of OHB-System AG until further notice and will share the duties of Smutny with the members of the management board, Dr. Fritz Merkle, who is responsible for the company's business development, and Frank Negretti, board member in charge of security.

The Supervisory Board thanked Smutny for the work that he had performed over the past 18 months, particularly stressing the fact that last year had been the most successful in the company’s history.

Copyright © 2011 Gibbons Media & Research LLC, all rights reserved.

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