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Immofinanz case before court

In the case of illegal share trades inside the biggest Austrian real estate concern, ex-manager Petrikovics, who claims innocence, is accused of perfidy and the creation of a criminal organisation.

Prosecution accuse Petrikovics, in conjunction with an executive colleague Norbet Gertner and the then chairman of the supervisory body Helmut Schwager, of buying Immoeast-shares following an increase of capital without the consent of the supervisory body – and to have personally profited from the move.

With the help of Ernst Hable, Petrikovics, Gertner and Schwager also allegedly faked options and cashed in under the guise of four Immoeast and Immofinanz actions. These were supposedly conceded in 2004 and 2005 but issued in practice only in 2006.

The four suspects deny the accusations and say they received authorisation from the supervisory body to make the purchases. According to prosecution, the accused "created 32 Million Euros of damages through – partly obscured by helpers – these action-purchases."

The Immofinanz case was also catalyst for the investigations linked to the Bau und Wohnen GmbH (BUWOG) privatisation in 2004.

Investigators discovered a 10-million-Euro provision was made from the successful BUWOG-bidder Immofinanz to the lobbyists Peter Hochegger and Walter Meischberger before the sale went through.

Ex Immofinanz executive Christian Thornton told prosecution the services of an intermediary had indeed been taken up during the acquisition process of BUWOG. Until the investigations no one knew that Meischberger and Hochegger, friends of ex finance minister Karl-Heinz Grasser, had received one million Euros from the winning bidder.

For the last two years, BUWOG has been investigated and traces of the million-Euro provision have been followed to Cyprus and back to an account in Liechtenstein. Suspects' houses were searched and several people were questioned in connexion with this case, yet no one was remanded in custody during the process.

If the criminal proceedings against the malversations only recently began, civil tribunals have been busy documenting the inconstancies in and around what was once the biggest real estate company in Austria for several years.

The trials against the company and external finance advisors have been on the case since the end of 2008. In May 2011, even the Immofinanz Group started civil court proceedings against the then manager.

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