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Banknote printer bribe executives face jail time

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Banknote printer bribe executives face jail time
Defendants awaiting the verdict on Friday. Photo: APA (Neubauer)
10:09 CEST+02:00
A Vienna court ruled on Friday that two former directors should serve jail terms for their role in a conspiracy to bribe foreign officials to secure business to print bank notes for two countries, reported Bloomberg.

Michael Wolf and Johannes Miller, former executive directors of the Austrian banknote printer, were given two year suspended jail sentences, while Wolfgang Duchatczek, former chairman of the Oesterreichische Banknoten und Sicherheitsdruck GmbH (OeBS) was acquitted.

Two state companies, OeBS and coin producer Münze Österreich AG, were implicated after an 18 month investigation in relation to alleged kick-backs to officials from Syria and Azerbaijan. 

The bribes totalled around €14 million (US$17.5 million), and were allegedly paid to Syrian and Azeri officials, including governors of those countries' central banks.  

The investigation found that the money was transferred via offshore shell companies from 2005 to 2011, and was discovered when internal auditors found evidence of payments without associated services. 

The jury believed that the main witness, a former sales representative at the Austrian money printer, “told nothing but the truth,” according to judge Georg Olschak.

Apart from the main witness, former managing director Wolf admitted to having known about the bribes when the trial started. Miller changed his plea during the trial and pleaded guilty as well, saying he wanted to clear his conscience, according to the Austrian Press Agency.

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