‘Justice data affair’ mastermind sentenced

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.

'Justice data affair' mastermind sentenced
Photo: APA/Barbara Gindl

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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Austria probes claim spyware targeted law firms and banks

Austria said Friday that it was investigating a report that an Austrian company developed spyware targeting law firms, banks and consultancies in at least three countries.

Austria probes claim spyware targeted law firms and banks

Microsoft’s security team earlier this week said it found that a malware called Subzero — developed by Vienna-based company DSIRF — was deployed in 2021 and 2022.

“Observed victims to date include law firms, banks and strategic consultancies in countries such as Austria, the United Kingdom and Panama,” it wrote in a blog entry on Wednesday.

Austria’s interior ministry said it had not received reports of any incidents.

READ ALSO: Austria wary of cyber attacks after personal data of foreign residents leaked online

“Of course, (intelligence agency) DSN checks the allegations. So far, there is no proof of the use of spy software from the company mentioned,” it said in a statement.

Austria’s Kurier newspaper cited DSIRF as saying that Subzero had not been misused and “was developed exclusively for use by authorities in EU states” and was not commercially available.

DSIRF did not immediately return a request for comment from AFP.

Austria’s interior ministry said it knew of the company but “has not had any business relationships” with it.

Last year several media outlets reported that governments around the world, including in the EU, had used Pegasus spyware made by Israel’s NSO Group to spy on opponents.

Budapest and Warsaw responded that the use of Pegasus was for legitimate national security reasons.