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'Justice data affair' mastermind sentenced

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'Justice data affair' mastermind sentenced
Photo: APA/Barbara Gindl
10:53 CEST+02:00
A 69-year-old man was sentenced to three years in prison for abuse of office, bribery, and breach of official secrecy on Monday at the Vienna Regional Criminal Court.

As part of the so-called 'Justice Data Affair', the credit bureau owner was caught selling private information on court judgements relating to potential customers to banks, according to a report in the Kronen Zeitung newspaper.

The man illegally procured access to restricted data about court decisions and fines from corrupt judicial officials in Vorarlberg, Tyrol, Styria, Upper Austria and Lower Austria.

While the defendant claimed to have earned less than €40,000 from his activities, the prosecution contended that his profit was closer to €2.3 million. This evidence was used to request the court to impose an appropriate financial penalty.

The highly-sensitive data was passed on to banks to help them to make decisions about credit worthiness of potential customers.

The defendant denied that his actions were illegal, saying that he operated a legitimate licensed business, and therefore he had the "right to obtain the data".  

He argued that as the operator of a credit bureau, he had a legitimate interest in the judicial data, and only passed it on to customers who also had a legitimate interest.

The court disagreed, and sentenced him to three years in prison, of which two years would be suspended. He also faces fines of €1.53 million.

Several corrupt judicial officials who sold the records to the man have already been sentenced to conditional prison terms between six and 24 months.

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