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Banker jailed for embezzling €1.4 million

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Banker jailed for embezzling €1.4 million
Photo: APA (dpa)
13:40 CEST+02:00
A Viennese banker has been convicted of embezzlement in the Criminal District Court and sentenced to an unconditional term of three years and nine months.

The former branch manager of a large financial institution had been caught diverting €1.4 million of customer funds into his own accounts over a period of seven and a half years.

"I wanted to improve my living conditions," the 47-year-old man told the court.  

It all started when he became tired of traffic noise near his house on a major arterial road, so he decided to build a house in the Vienna woods.

Things started to go wrong with the construction, which became very expensive.  There was a landslide, problems with the sewer connection, and major unexpected costs for additional retaining walls, all of which ate into his budget.

He'd already exhausted his line of credit, so starting in 2006, he identified a series of accounts belonging to elderly investors who he thought weren't tracking the balances in their investment accounts.

As well as financing his new home, he also pleased his wife by buying her two racehorses and an Audi Q5.

"Unfortunately, I took the easy way out," the 47-year-old said.

It wasn't until 2013 that the embezzlement was detected.  

"The fact that no one checked [during the seven years]," puzzled the judge, George Olschak.  "I think to myself as a bank customer, this cannot be true."

The accused explained that internal auditors focused mainly on those customers who operated overdrafts.  As for the customers, "they have simply not seen it," he said.

In mitigation during sentencing, the banker had made a full confession, and sold all his assets to repay some of the money he embezzled.  His bank, which had to make good the losses, has taken over his property in the Vienna woods.
 
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