Monday, 02. March 2015
13. 12. 12. - 13:00
Austria's Mozart region of Salzburg is facing a major financial crisis after an alleged rogue trader gambled away an incredible three billion euros on risky ventures on the international financial markets.
Alleged rogue trader Monika R, 45, was hired in 2001 to speculate with taxpayers money and made massive losses in 2006 after she bought Icelandic sovereign bonds.
The law graduate covered the losses by getting one of her staff to sign them off - then forged his signature after that - and used a complicated system to cover her tracks until 15 October, 2012, when the scandal first came to light.
Salzburg refers to the region of the same name that is one of nine federal provinces that make up modern Austria. The city of Salzburg is the capital of the province. The region is famous as the location for the Sound of Music film, as the birthplace of Mozart and for the Salzburg Festival that is attended by Europe's elite including royals like Prince Charles. It is the province of Salzburg that has lost the money.
The Salzburg province financial director (SPÖ) David Brenner learned about the scandal on 15 October, but instead of going public with the fact that there were 253 undeclared derivative ventures in addition to the 43 on the books - it was kept secret for six weeks.
In that time they hired an investigator who Austrian media has now revealed was a former business partner of hers at a German bank that had earned around 30 million euros on the speculative deals and who - they allege - spent that time covering her tracks.
The existence of 253 illegal, secret derivative investments in addition to the 43 on the city's books was only discovered when Rathmayer, who had not taken a holiday for six years, was forced to go on leave so that irregularities could be checked.
She objected so strongly that colleagues suspected she was suffering from burn-out.
Salzburg's governor Gabi Burgstaller has already made a tearful apology to the people of the city, and has not ruled out stepping down.
She said: "I would like to express my sincerest and deepest regret and to apologise to the people of Salzburg for the impression that now exists that we, the regional government, have left Salzburg in grave turmoil.
"We have bought turbulence to what is one of the most wonderful regions of the world.
"I promise that I will do whatever I can to prevent damage to the province, and if it turns out that I did something politically wrong or that I misjudged the situation, I am prepared to step down."
When police arrived to question her mother-of-one she reportedly said: "Don't take my baby away," and claimed she had only wanted to help the city - but since then her position has hardened and through her lawyer she claims that all of the deals were sanctioned by her superiors.
Her lawyer Herbert Huebel said not only is she innocent of any wrong doing but that her employers knew what she was doing.
He said: "It is always easy to accuse, buy my client is innocent of the charges - of that I am positive. She had complete authority for the business transactions both from her superiors and politically. That authority included complete freedom for the type of business that nobody complained about for years when it all seemed to be going well.
"The Federal Province of Salzburg wanted to get involved in this type of business, and my client carried it out. She did not operate alone, she reported to her managers and political masters. And she never pocketed a single cent - it was all for Salzburg. She has been questioned and has handed over the documents that prove her role, the truth will now come out.
"She herself feels herself 100 per cent not guilty. I believe that she will not be charged as she did not do anything wrong. "
The scandal comes at a bad time, there are early elections taking place. It may be that the real situation only emerges after that. When it was first announced the loss was put at 340 million, today Austrian media have put it at between 1 and 3 billion euros.
It was also warned that Salzburg might be the tip of the iceberg - and that other local authorities might be covering similar bad debts from risky investments.
Consultant Gert Edlinger from HLC Communications estimates a potential figure of 8 billion euros in local government losses due to speculation in structured financial products gone wrong in Austria.
Semmering Offers 50% Discount To Selected Heroes
The Magic Mountain Semmering will hold two Weeks of Heroes from 1st to 14th March as Panhans Holding Group says thank you to safety and well-being volunteers and professionals.
Skier Survived Almost Two Hours Buried Alive
A skier had a miracle escape after being buried under two metres of snow for nearly two hours during an avalanche in Austria, it was revealed last night.
Puppies Found Stuffed Inside Suitcase In Back Of Van
A litter of puppies destined for a dog farm was rescued after being found stuffed inside suitcases in the back of a van.
Kangaroo That Hopped It Spotted In Garden
Austrian police investigating reports of an escaped kangaroo have been given concrete proof after a local woman managed to photograph the animal in her back garden.
First Images Of Eurovision Stage
These are the first images of the design for the Eurovision Song Contest stage unveiled in the Austrian capital Vienna which is the home of last year's winner Conchita Wurst.
Russian Mafia Boss Nabbed At Vienna Railway Station
A Russian mobster wanted for a string of brutal murders was arrested in the gentile Austrian capital Vienna when commandos swooped as he went to buy a train ticket.
Teen Girls Arrested After Offering Themselves To IS Fighters
Austrian officials who recently cracked down on terrorism by arresting several people believed to be recruiting and fundraising for ISIS have revealed two more teenage girls tried to leave the country to marry terrorist fighters.
Ebola's deadly reach impacts Vienna student
Austria has yet to record its first case of Ebola, but the feared virus has already had a severe impact on the lives of Africans living in Vienna.
Grigorij Sokolov Works His Magic At Vienna Konzerthaus
Whilst the world-famous Wizard of Oz played at the Volksoper, there was another Wizard in the Konzerthaus giving his 16th performance in Vienna!
Penelope Cruz To Play The Ice Cream Killer
The memoirs of the woman dubbed the Ice Cream Killer after she shot dead two ex-lovers before hacking the bodies up with a chainsaw and telling neighbours the noise was a new ice cream machine are due to be turned into a blockbuster with Penelope Cruz playing the lead role.
The most popular stories –
last 7 days
|Lion Fed On Milk To Keep Him Small For Pictures|
|Porn Star Arrested After High Speed Police Chase|
|Wanted Mafia Boss Captured After YouTube Baptism|
|Mentally Ill Girl Locked Up By Parents For 6 Years|
|Czech Oscars Team Fail To Spot Jim Carrey Hoaxer|
Why suffer in silence. Let off steam by letting our readers share your troubles. File your complaints about anything and everything here.
Our ombudsman David Rogers will try and help solve some of the problems from lazy civil servants through to incompetent companies – and at the very least the worst transgressors will end up in our weekly special report.