Interviewed on BBC Radio programme Weekend Business, WPP Group chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell revealed the group is to sue Marco Benatti, the former country manager of WPP Italia.

Benatti's involuntary exit came last month amid mutual recriminations and in the wake of an internal investigation into fraud allegations [WAMN: 18-Jan-06].

Sorrell claimed Benatti had admitted having a commercial interest in Mediaclub, an Italian media shop "introduced" by him to WPP and which was subsequently acquired by WPP's Italian arm for £14 million ($24.83m; €20.47m).

Not only did Benatti collect an introductory fee of £140,000 on the deal, he later claimed a further £6.1m commission - more than twice the amount WPP believed was due to him. Benatti, however, refutes all allegations of wrongdoing.

Sorrell told Weekend Business: "Litigation in Italy has already commenced. We are suing him. Expect a lot of counter litigation in this process."

Interviewer Jeff Randall asked the WPP boss if the affair could damage shareholder confidence in his ability to manage the far-flung WPP empire? Sorrell admitted he had allowed Benatti too much power, but added the qualification: " I hope this is a unique situation."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff