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Ex-finance minister expected to be sued

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Karl-Heinz Grasser. Photo: APA
10:39 CEST+02:00
Austria's Public Prosecutor's Office against Corruption has completed its work in the so-called Buwog corruption affair after five years of investigations.

According to the newspaper Der Standard ex-finance minister Karl-Heinz Grasser is among 18 people who are expected to be sued.

It is alleged that he embezzled funds in the course of privatizing 60,000 state-owned flats (run by the Buwog housing company) in 2003-04.

The flats were sold for about €961 million in Austria's biggest-ever privatization. At the time, Grasser was finance minister in a centre-right government.

About €9.6 million - one per cent  of the price - was paid in "commission" to the two lobbyists Walter Meischberger and Peter Hochegger.

This money was said to have been channelled via Cyprus to three accounts in Liechtenstein.  Part of it is suspected to have come back to Grasser himself.

Grasser is the most frequently-named person in various corruption inquiries. According to the newspaper Österreich Grasser is also expected to be sued because of tax fraud and avoidance.

If found guilty he potentially faces up to ten years in prison, in addition to fines that may amount to €20 million.

Grasser denies any wrongdoing.

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