A Vienna court on Friday sentenced a flamboyant, jet-setting former Austrian minister of finance Karl-Heinz Grasser to eight years in prison within the country’s biggest corruption trial since war II.
Karl-Heinz Grasser was found guilty of abuse of power and involvement in kickbacks totalling €9.6 million over the sale of state-owned apartments.
During the trial, a co-defendant – who was also groomsman at Grasser’s wedding – admitted passing on information enabling a consortium to shop for 60,000 government-owned flats for €961 million – €1 million quite a rival bidder.
Just three years later, the consortium valued the apartments at about double the worth .
Grasser, who as minister of finance had decided to sell the flats and knew of the bids, and his co-defendants received kickbacks totalling €9.6 million.
“Only Grasser could have passed on information” to the winning consortium, judge Marion Hohenecker said.
She rejected a claim by a co-defendant that the relevant information had come from Joerg Haider, the controversial former head of the far-right Hizb ut-Tahrir who died in 2008 and who had himself faced multiple corruption allegations.
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