Specht out, Riedel in at VIP fund

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COLOGNE, Germany -- Dirk Specht has resigned as head of Germany's VIP film fund and will be replaced by Peter H. Riedel, VIP said Wednesday.

Riedel is a relative unknown in the German film business, having held a number of executive positions with German Internet, multimedia and tourism companies.

The news comes just days after Specht and VIP set up a deal with London financier Brass Hat Films to co-invest in movies, and as a criminal fraud case heats up in Germany against VIP founders Andreas Schmidt and Andreas Grosch.

The German and U.K. companies said they will have $190 million to invest in productions. Much of that would come from VIP's funds, since investors -- despite the fraud allegations -- cannot withdraw their cash until 2014.

On Wednesday, lawyers for Grosch also confirmed reports that the former VIP boss will appear to testify in Munich district court on Oct. 4. They declined comment on what his testimony will contain.

There has been speculation in the German media for months that Grosch or Schmidt will make a deal with prosecutors to accept a fine and a suspended sentence in exchange for confessing in detail to fraud charges.

Calls to VIP were not returned in time for publication.
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