In 2013 the bank clerk was tasked with transporting the money from a savings bank branch in Obertauern to its headquarters in Radstadt.
During the trip, the 46-year-old said he got a flat, and claims that whilst he was fixing his car the money got swept away.
He said that he had put the money in a plastic bag, and then into a banana box which he put in the trunk of his car. He also put a bag containing €670 worth of coins and blank savings books in the trunk. He claimed that when he noticed he had a flat, he had to put the banana box on the ground near to the car, in order to access the spare tyre and jack. He told the judge that he didn’t notice that the fast-flowing Taurach river was nearby.
According to a report in the Salzburger Nachrichten, the judge was incredulous. “You put money worth almost €90,000 near to a flooded stream – did you not think that might be dangerous?”
The bank clerk said that suddenly he noticed that the banana box had gone, but could not explain how it might have fallen into the river. “This is a question that has given me sleepless nights, maybe I knocked the box with the spare tire, maybe the coins shifted, and the box fell down…”
Police, mountain rescuers, and fire fighters searched the river for hours looking for the money but only found €3,500. The prosecution accused the clerk of having thrown in some of the money so that people would believe it had been an accident, and said that he in fact embezzled around €87,000 euros.
The defence pleaded for an acquittal, despite the many contradictions in the accused’s testimony. "There was a chain of unfortunate circumstances. He had no motive, he was not in debt and had no financial obligations,” his lawyer, Helmut Schott, pleaded.
However, the judge ruled that he could not believe the man’s story. The bank was awarded compensation of €87,000 euros.