Alex Constantine - August 10, 2010
Far-right Austrian leader Joerg Haider secretly had £40 million in Liechtenstein
Prosecutors from Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein found 12 shell companies whose Liechtenstein bank accounts Haider had access to, Profil magazine reported. The accounts currently still have 5 million euros of deposits, it said.
The money was found in an investigation by Austrian and German authorities into the near-collapse of Austrian bank Hypo Group Alpe Adria, once owned by the Austrian region of Carinthia, which Haider governed until he died in a car crash in 2008.
Haider’s Carinthia and a group of mainly German and Austrian investors sold a majority stake in Hypo to Germany’s BayernLB in 2007 in a deal that ultimately proved disastrous. Hypo had to be nationalised last year to prevent a collapse.
Prosecutors are investigating whether former managers, shareholders and business partners of Hypo lined their pockets at the expense of both Hypo and BayernLB.
Claudia Haider, the far-right politician’s widow, denied any knowledge of the funds, adding “Nothing like that was described in the estate.”
Croatia, Libya Links to Far-Right Haider 'Millions': Report
Zawya.com | 11 Aug 2010
VIENNA, Aug 01, 2010 (AFP) - Austrian prosecutors are probing whether far-right leader Joerg Haider siphoned off millions from Croatian real estate deals and ran a secret election warchest with Libyan money, a report said Sunday.
Profil magazine reported this week that Haider, who died in a drink-driving accident in 2008 after a night of partying in a gay club, hid 45 million euros (60 million dollars) in secret bank accounts in the tax haven Liechtenstein.
On Sunday it reported on its website that Austrian prosecutors are looking into real estate deals in Croatia where some of the funds are believed to have originated.
Investigators in Klagenfurt, capital of the southern province of Carinthia where Haider was governor, are trying to establish whether Haider received commissions on the purchase of property and land by HGAA bank, it said.
Carinthia province was a shareholder in the Austrian bank until 2007.
The deals were carried out by former HGAA employees together with retired Croatian army general Vladimir Zagorec, who has been convicted of arms trafficking, Profil reported.
The Profil article also reported that Haider received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds from Libya.
It quotes a friend as saying that Seif al-Islam Kadhafi, son of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi and a longtime friend of the far-right leader, "regularly sent us cash ahead of election campaigns."
He said the sums ranged from 150,000 to 200,000 dollars each time.
Investigators from Austria, Switzerland and Germany have identified a dozen companies registered in Liechtenstein and linked to Haider, Profil reported.
Of the 45 million euros allegedly channelled to Lichtenstein, around five million euros were still lying dormant in the accounts of these companies, and the rest had been squandered in risky investments, Profil said.
The bank accounts were discovered during investigations into the takeover of HGAA bank by Germany's BayernLB in 2007, and the privatisation of Austrian property company Buwog in 2004.
Austrian and German media have reported that the takeover of HGAA by BayernLB was approved by Haider on condition that the German bank paid 2.5 million euros to a football team in Carinthia province.
The allegations could further tarnish the reputation of Haider, who achieved notoriety for his pro-Nazi declarations and consistently accused Austria's political class of corruption.
Haider's political opponents are calling for full light to be shed on the financing claims.