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Call for parliamentary investigation into Hypo

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Call for parliamentary investigation into Hypo
Roland Düringer. Photo: APA (Pfarrhofer)
14:51 CEST+02:00
Austrian cabaret star Roland Düringer presented 49,000 signatures which he has collected for his citizens' initiative to start a parliamentary investigation committee into the state-owned Hypo bank on Tuesday.

"It looks like there will be a parliamentary investigation committee," he said. Around 140,000 Austrians have signed another petition online backing a parliamentary investigation into the nationalised bank. 

Meanwhile the governing coalition has commissioned a panel of experts to look into the matter.

A parliamentary committee on petitions was due to deal with several issues concerning the Hypo bank on Tuesday. A total of 250,000 Austrians have signed petitions demanding clarification about what will happen to the troubled bank. 

The government has been accused of dragging its feet over what to do next while legal proceedings concerning former Hypo officials and Carinthian politicians are moving slowly.  The former CEO of the state bank is currently serving a prison term of six and a half years for embezzlement and fraud.

Hypo Alpe Adria has received €5.5 billion in state aid since 2008. Hypo's costs will push state debt to 80 percent of gross domestic product this year.

Opposition parties are demanding a parliamentary investigation into how Austria got into this mess and whether it really had to take over the bank, which nearly collapsed after breakneck expansion fuelled by debt guarantees from its home province of Carinthia.

The unaffordable guarantees granted by the late far-right leader Jörg Haider's regional government forced Austria to buy Hypo from Germany's Bayern Landesbank in 1999 for a symbolic one euro, or else see the province go under a year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

While the state has become caught up in the bank scandal, it is difficult for the public to get information on the exact amount of money propping up the bank, why so much is needed, and who is overseeing the process.

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