AUSTRIA’s former finance minister has been jailed for his role in a massive corruption conspiracy that saw over 9 million euro paid in bribes.
Karl-Heinz Gasser was among 14 defendants charged in a Vienna court for money laundering, embezzlement, falsification, and receiving bribes. Prosecutors proved that Grasser, who was Austria’s finance minister between 2000 and 2007, passed information about a lucrative housing sale onto another company.
The state was selling 60,000 publicly owned apartments to the private sector, with Grasser and his associates receiving about 9 million euro in kickback bribes for allowing another company to raise their bid just high enough to win the contract. The massive portfolio of properties was bought for 961 million and was worth three times more within just a few years. Grasser and two colleagues received 10 percent of the figure in bribes paid into their Liechtenstein bank accounts.
‘Those who do business honestly do not need any accounts in Liechtenstein’, said the cases’ judge, ruling that the property deal was ‘achieved through bribery and was only possible because of the intentional abuse of authority’ by Grasser. The former minister, once famous for his relative youth and jet-set lifestyle, was sentenced to 8 years
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