Jail for Aegis Media Executives in Germany
DUESSELDORF, Germany (AdAge.com) -- The former head of Aegis Media in Germany, Aleksander Ruzicka, has been jailed as a possible flight risk as the German public prosecutor investigates allegations of embezzlement by Mr. Ruzicka while he worked at Aegis.
Another Aegis executive, Heinrich Kernebeck, who was managing director of Carat Wiesbaden, one of four regional Carat offices in Germany, was also jailed Oct. 25. Aegis confirmed that the company yesterday suspended Mr. Kernebeck and two other employees, David Linn and Claudia Jackson, who were Carat's directors of buying for Germany. Carat is Aegis' main media buying network.
Mr. Ruzicka was CEO of Aegis Media Central Europe and South Africa until he was suspended in September 2006. He left the company last month, Aegis confirmed. Mr. Ruzicka, 45, was well-known for his lavish lifestyle and eccentricities, such as rarely wearing shoes.
An Aegis spokeswoman said the company's chief financial officer for the region, Andreas Boelte, has taken over Mr. Ruzicka's role, supported by a management committee and individual country managers. She emphasized that the German prosecutor's investigation centers on individuals, not Aegis Media, and that Aegis is the "potential injured party."
German agency execs and the German press have estimated that up to $26 million could be involved. According to the German business press, Mr. Ruzicka may have diverted free spots that German TV stations give to media agencies to a company he owned, then sold the spots at a discounted rate.
Mr. Ruzicka set up a company in Wiesbaden called Camaco with Mr. Kernebeck. Camaco's manager, Felicitas Conway, is also in jail. Public prosecutor Klaus Schulte was quoted in German business daily Frakfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as saying, "It is possible it was a bogus company for money laundering."