Telit Communications chief fired after fraud allegations

The chief executive of a London telecoms company has been fired after it alleged that he had been lying about his true identity for at least 17 years and was on the run from US police.

Oozi Cats, 56, was dismissed on Monday by Aim-listed Telit Communications after the company’s private investigators found that he was in fact Uzi Katz, named by Boston’s district court as a “fugitive defendant” wanted in connection with an alleged 1990s property scam.

Telit, which has lost more than half of its stock market value over the past week, said there was considerable anger that Cats had sought to hide his past from the company he had worked at since 2000.

Cats, who has earned £18m from Telit since 2009 and is understood to live at the company’s expense in a villa on the grounds of a 12th-century castle on the outskirts of Rome, did not respond to requests for comment. Lawyers said to be representing Cats also failed to respond to requests for comment.

“It is a source of considerable anger to the board that the historical indictment against Oozi Cats was never disclosed to them or previous members of the board and that they have only been made aware of its existence through third parties,” Telit said in a statement.

The company, which supplies technologies for the Internet of Things, where items such as fridges and cars are connected to the internet, said investigators at the law firm CMS had found that the evidence showed “an indictment was issued against Oozi Cats in the US and this fact was knowingly withheld from advisers”.

Questions about Cats’s real identity were raised last week by the financial blog Share Prophets and Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano, which had spotted that Cats and Katz (and their respective wives, both called Ruth Katz) appeared to share the same birthday.

The company’s shares rose sharply on the news of Cats’s exit, before falling back, but they still closed up nearly 6% at 131p. The shares had been changing hands at more than 250p before a profit warning and the revelation of the identity allegations last week.

Cats is alleged to have fled the US in 1991 or 1992 after he was accused of being involved in a scheme of buying and quickly reselling properties (flipping) to take out mortgages with escalated value.

Cats, an Israeli citizen, describes himself as the founder and chief executive of Telit. The company, which has drafted in a crisis management firm, has deleted Cats’s profile from its website. He has been suspended since an emergency board meeting last Tuesday.

Telit listed on the Aim market, which has been hit by several scandals, in 2005. A spokesman for Aim declined to comment. Earlier this year, the company boasted that it had secured an order from the electric carmaker Tesla.

Telit, which described Cats’s departure as “a difficult situation”, said the finance director, Yosi Fait, would continue as interim chief executive and three independent non-executive directors would be appointed to the board. Fait will conduct a review of the company’s activities and cost base.

The company rejected concerns about its financial health raised before the Cats allegations. “The board is also aware of additional speculation from third parties relating to Telit’s financial condition, trading performance and business relationships, and has considered that speculation in detail,” it said.

“The board confirms that there is no substance to the speculative and accusatory articles that have been published and that it stands behind the group’s audited accounts to 31 December 2016, and the most recently published interim statement.”

Cats sold £24m of stock in May soon after the shares hit a record high of 375p, and bought back shares last week at 171p, increasing his stake to more than 12%.


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