Bloomberg News

Austria Money-Printing Management Dismissed by Central Bank

October 28, 2011

(Adds report on Viagra, Syria bribes in fifth paragraph.)

Oct. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Austria’s Central Bank dismissed management at Oesterreichische Banknoten- und Sicherheitsdruck GmbH, the subsidiary charged with printing the country’s banknotes.

“Suspicions of unlawful actions” were uncovered during a routine audit, the bank in Vienna said in an e-mailed statement today without elaborating. The bank’s spokesman wasn’t immediately available via telephone.

The subsidiary, which also designs and prints notes for African, Asian and Latin American countries, was founded in 1816, according to its website. Robert Kalina, the award-winning currency designer who created the euro area’s bills, worked at the company.

The bank referred the case to the “relevant authorities” and said it is committed to a “full investigation,” according to the statement.

The managers may have expensed items including Viagra and may have paid bribes to get orders from Syria, Der Standard newspaper reported, citing an internal review of the Austrian central bank.

The auditors found “unusual” expenses of as much as 600,000 euros ($850,000), which included charges claimed for furniture in a Romanian apartment as well as for Pfizer Inc.’s impotence drug, the Vienna-based daily said. They also found payments of as much as 14 million euros made to win contracts to print Syrian bank notes, the paper reported.

The newspaper didn’t identify the managers who were fired over the accusations, adding that they declined to comment.

--Editors: Eddie Buckle, Zoe Schneeweiss

To contact the reporters on this story: Jonathan Tirone in Vienna at jtirone@bloomberg.net; Boris Groendahl in Vienna at bgroendahl@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net


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