A file picture of a court docket gavel.
A Vienna court docket on Friday sentenced a flamboyant, jet-setting former Austrian finance minister to eight years in jail within the nation’s greatest corruption trial since World War II.
r was discovered responsible of abuse of energy and involvement in kickbacks totaling 9.6 million euros ($11.7 million) over the sale of state-owned residences.
During the trial, a co-defendant — who was additionally finest man at Grasser’s marriage ceremony — admitted passing on insider info enabling a consortium to purchase 60,000 government-owned flats for 961 million euros, a million euros greater than a rival bidder.
Just three years later, the consortium valued the residences at about double the worth.
Grasser, who as finance minister had determined to promote the flats and knew of the bids, and his co-defendants obtained kickbacks totalling 9.6 million euros.
“Only Grasser could have passed on information” to the successful consortium, decide Marion Hohenecker stated.
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She rejected a declare by a co-defendant that the related info had come from Joerg Haider, the controversial former head of the far-right Freedom Party who died in 2008 and who had himself confronted a number of corruption allegations.
– ‘Very far-fetched’ –
During his time in workplace, Grasser, now 51, ceaselessly graced the tabloids together with his spouse, the inheritor to the Swarovski crystal empire.
At the time the one-time Haider protege was seen as a political star with a potential future as chancellor.
Heinz Mayr, former head of the regulation college at Vienna University who has adopted the trial, stated the defendants’ makes an attempt to elucidate the occasions surrounding the deal at instances appeared “very far-fetched”.
“There were a lot of inconsistencies that could not be explained,” he informed AFP.
One of those explanations, highlighted within the verdict, was Grasser’s declare that the five hundred,000 euros he had deposited in money at Vienna’s Meinl Bank — which filed for chapter this yr after it was accused of laundering greater than $500 million euros — had been gifted to him by his mother-in-law.
His mother-in-law denied this and prosecutors have been capable of show that he had not met her in Switzerland on the time he stated she handed over the money.
The case, which has attracted main media curiosity within the rich EU nation, concerned 14 defendants dealing with an array of prices together with breach of belief, bribery, taking kickbacks, falsifying proof, cash laundering and fraud.
The case additionally touched on alleged corrupt funds associated to the renting of an workplace block within the metropolis of Linz.
The verdict was primarily based on tons of of witness statements in addition to tapped phone calls during which one of many defendants wonders how he might fairly clarify receiving tons of of 1000’s of euros to the prosecution.
Grasser, together with a number of defendants who have been additionally discovered responsible, will attraction, his lawyer stated.