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Deutsche Bahn Director Accuses Critics of Slander

The managing board of Germany's national railway Deutsche Bahn has denied the firm falsified balance sheets in preparation for an initial public offering. In an article published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper on Wednesday, financial director Diethelm Sack suggested critics had slandered the company by implying it had manipulated the firm's balance sheets. The formerly state-run Deutsche Bahn must become a normal company, Sack wrote, and "this route means tough reorganization in all areas of the firm." He lamented that the company's leadership had been criticized for pursuing corporate aims. "It's stranger still that for lack of objective arguments the Bahn's leadership is criminalized by speaking of manipulating and falsifying balance sheets," Sack wrote. The company's supervisory board agreed to meet in October after trade unions Transnet and GDBA pushed for a re-examination of preparations to go public. The heads of the two unions said in a joint statement on Tuesday that the railway company had not adequately completed reforms. Transnet chief Norbert Hansen, who is also a member of the supervisory board, warned Bahn CEO Hartmut Mehdorn against fiddling the books to improve the firm's standing to float on the stock market by 2004.