Bloomberg News

Austrian Central Banker Charged on Syrian Money Bribe (1)

June 13, 2013

Austrian prosecutors charged nine people, including the vice-governor at the national bank, with bribery and money laundering in connection with money-printing deals in Syria and Azerbaijan.

Wolfgang Duchatczek, 63, and the unnamed co-defendants paid 14 million euros ($18.6 million), or as much as 20 percent of order volumes, to win contracts, according to a statement from Nina Bussek, a spokeswoman for the Vienna prosecutor.

The charges follow an 18-month investigation into Oesterreichische Banknoten- und Sicherheitsdruck GmbH, the money-printing press owned by the central bank. Authorities arrested four people in November 2011 after kickbacks were discovered. Duchatczek headed the unit’s supervisory board.

“The defendants face a 10 year prison term,” Bussek said in the statement. Eighty interviews were conducted over the course of the investigation, she said.

Duchatczek’s lawyer, Gabriel Lansky, said via telephone that his client isn’t guilty. Duchatczek said he wouldn’t comment before having the opportunity to study the indictment, when reached on his mobile phone. His term at the central bank ends next month.

The Austrian central bank’s money-printing arm, which has produced banknotes since 1816, also designs and prints notes for African, Asian and Latin American countries. It sells engravers used to produce printing plates for banknotes and technologies to identify forgeries. Robert Kalina, the currency designer who created the euro area’s bills, worked at the company.

The central bank’s general council will hold an extraordinary meeting on June 18 to discuss the matter, according to a statement from the Vienna-based institution.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jonathan Tirone in Vienna at jtirone@bloomberg.net; Alexander Weber in Vienna at aweber45@bloomberg.net

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


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