• Austria's news in English
Corruption charges against ex-Finance Minister confirmed
A fresh-faced Karl-Heinz Grasser when he entered office over a decade ago. Photo: BIG SHOT / Christian Jungwirth

Corruption charges against ex-Finance Minister confirmed

The Local · 21 Jul 2016, 10:22

Published: 21 Jul 2016 10:22 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Grasser, along with a number of other suspects, is to be charged in relation to the privatisation of the state housing company Buwog in 2004 and the renting of Finance Ministry office space in Linz's Terminal Tower.

In the case of the Buwog affair, is alleged that he embezzled funds in the course of privatizing the 60,000 state-owned flats.

During the sale, real estate company Immofinanz received a tip that allowed them to submit a bid for the property that was marginally above their competitor's offer.

It is claimed that the tip was passed from Grasser to his friend and former politician Walter Meischberger and lobbyist Peter Hochegger, who then passed it on to the real estate company.

Following the sale of the flats for about €961 million - Austria’s biggest ever privatisation - around €9.6 million was then paid in “commission” to Meischberger and Hochegger.

The money was transferred to an account in Cyprus before ending up in Liechtenstein and part of it is suspected to having been transferred to Grasser.

Grasser and Meischberger deny, however, that the tip-off information came from Grasser who was the then Finance Minister.

Grasser’s lawyer Manfred Ainedter confirmed yesterday evening the charges are being made against the former Finance Minister.

Ainedter said they would wait until full details have been announced by the Justice Ministry before responding in full.

The court case concerning the corruption charges is expected to begin in 2017, due in part to the complexity of the evidence and material relating to the case.

If found guilty, Grasser could face a decade behind bars as well as a fine into the tens of millions.

Story continues below…

He was first made Finance Minister in 2000, nominated by the Freedom Party when they led a government coalition with the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP).

At the time he was the youngest person ever to take up the post of Finance Minister in Austria.

A few years later the coalition broke up but was reformed under the lead ÖVP, who nominated Grasser again to become Finance Minister.

He was brought uncomfortably into the spotlight in 2011, however, after Austrian district attorneys began investigating possible kickback schemes and back room deals.

For more news from Austria, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Radioactive uranium rocks on display in Austrian schools
Uraninite crystals. Photo: Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com/Wikimedia

Education officials have carried out urgent checks in schools across the country after one of the stones on display in a classroom turned out to be radioactive.

Austrian churches slam far-right's 'God' slogan
Campaign poster for Norbert Hofer. Photo: Paul Gillingwater

Austrian church officials have denounced far-right presidential candidate Norbert Hofer for "instrumentalising" God in a new slogan.

'Scary clown' pushes 14-year-old off his bike in Salzburg
Generic photo: Graeme Maclean/Flick

A 14-year-old boy in Salzburg has been injured after being pushed off his bike by an individual dressed as a scary clown.

Police puzzled by random stabbing of teenager in Vienna
Photo: Paul Gillingwater

A 15-year-old boy who was stabbed near his home in the Vienna district of Liesing on Friday morning by a complete stranger has spoken to the police.

'Sensational' 300-year-old Madonna found in Burgenland
The head of the statue was found beside the body. Photo: ORF

A 300-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary has been found hidden in a chapel next to a Catholic church in Loretto, Burgenland.

Baumgartner 'failed to mention Red Bull' before jumping to Earth
Felix Baumgartner. Photo: Red Bull Stratos

Felix Baumgartner has been accused of cheating his Red Bull sponsors after he failed to mention the energy drink just before he jumped to Earth.

Verdict on swimming pool rape case overturned
The Theresienbad swimming pool in Vienna. Photo: Wikimedia

An Iraqi refugee who was jailed after claiming it was a sexual emergency when he raped a boy in a swimming pool has had the sentence overturned.

Vienna Comic Con promises to be 'bigger and more galactic'
Cosplay star Yaya Han. Copyright: Yaya Han/Bryan Humphrey

Comic Con returns to the Austrian capital on November 19th-20th at the Messe Wien.

Three refugees arrested on drugs charges
Cannabis plants. Photo: J. Patrick Bedell/Wikimedia

A gang of three Afghani drug dealers has been busted in Vienna.

Hungarian woman crushed by snowcat piste machine
Snowcat machine. Photo: Melensdad/Wikimedia

A young Hungarian woman has died after being crushed by a snowcat piste machine on the Dobratsch mountain in Carinthia.

12 brilliant German words you won't find in English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Five films which will change your mind about Austrian cinema
Those surprising Austrians!
100 years since the last emperor's death
Afghani family's new home in Austria
Der you learn Deutsch?
Delighted by the light
Beware these passport scams
Of course we skipped Oarsch
Foodies rejoice at the choice!
Travel & Tourism
10 years after her escape from captivity
Surviving the Brexit for British expats
Day 2 of the World Bodypainting Festival 2016
Is Islam hostile to Western society?
Bodypainting festival in southern Austria
Europe's ice cream capital
Best Austrian beauty spots
Travel & Tourism
Three days in Vienna as a tourist
How to make friends in Austria
jobs available