“Il Sogno” is a small Italian restaurant in downtown Munich, somewhere between Stachus and Marienplatz. Specialty: the steak from the lava grill for 24.90 euros. Il Sogno means something like “the dream, the wishful imagination” and one of them had just burst a few hours earlier when three people met for dinner in the restaurant on the evening of June 18, 2020. Jan Marsalek, long-time number two at Wirecard, had been given leave of absence from the Aschheim-based financial services company’s supervisory board just a few hours earlier. Shortly before, it had been established there that apparently 1.9 billion euros, which were supposed to be in trust accounts in Asia, simply did not exist.
Well, at “Il Sogno”, Marsalek conferred with two of his closest confidants. His longtime assistant Sabine E. and with Martin W., an Austrian, used to be a big animal at the local Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counter Terrorism (BVT).
A good 24 hours later, Jan Marsalek disappeared. His trail is lost at Minsk airport, the capital of Belarus. He started there on the evening of November 19 in a small private jet from Bad Vöslau Airport, near Vienna.
Since then, Sabine E. and Martin W. have both denied that Marsalek’s escape was planned at the said dinner at “Il Sogno”. Also that they even knew about it, let alone were involved in it. Allegedly Marsalek only told about his resignation at dinner – and that he wanted to make his way to the Philippines to look for the missing Wirecard billions. But at least with the former intelligence agent there are now strong doubts about this variant.
Martin W. has been in custody in Vienna since Friday evening. The Vienna public prosecutor’s office accuses him, among other things, of helping Marsalek escape to Minsk. This emerges from an arrest warrant issued by the Vienna Regional Court on January 22nd, issued by the Süddeutsche Zeitung is available and over which the Standard first reported.
Schellenbacher has apparently given extensive evidence
If you believe the Austrian authorities, W. Marsalek did not plan to escape alone. He is said to have been helped by former member of the National Council Thomas Schellenbacher, whom the investigators became aware of during telephone surveillance and surveillance. The entrepreneur sat for the right-wing populist FPÖ in the Austrian National Council from 2013 to 2017. He, too, is now in custody. And he apparently gave extensive testimony to investigators at the Austrian BKA.
According to the investigation, Schellenbacher is said to have admitted that W. had asked him to organize a flight for Marsalek to Minsk. He did that too, despite concerns. Accordingly, W. Schellenbacher is said to have called in mid-June. He needed an offer for a flight to Minsk, after which the ex-intelligence agent gave him Jan Marsalek’s passport.
As it currently looks, Schellenbacher then turned to Jet X Aviation Services in Kottingbrunn. She got one for June 19th Cessna Citation Mustang 50, which Marsalek was supposed to pick up at the private airport Bad Vöslau, around 30 kilometers south of Vienna.
During his interrogation, Schellenbacher apparently also stated that Martin W. had called him repeatedly on this Saturday afternoon that Marsalek would be late. He told the Austrian investigators that W. said on his last phone call that Marsalek’s arrival was further delayed because the taxi driver could not find the entrance to the airport building. According to information from Süddeutsche Zeitung The fugitive Wirecard manager should have started in the afternoon around 3:30 p.m. for Minsk. He didn’t arrive at the airport until around 7 p.m. Exactly at 8:03 p.m., the Cessna with Marsalek on board then took off in a northeasterly direction and landed in Minsk at around 11 p.m. Marsalek had apparently paid in cash. Around 8,000 euros.
Schellenbacher was once the focus of the investigation
A former Austrian intelligence agent and an ex-MP as alleged escape helper for the currently most wanted white-collar criminal in the world – that should also raise a number of political questions in Austria.
Schellenbacher was once the focus of investigations, back then it was about the circumstances of how he entered the Austrian parliament. Allegedly, several Ukrainian businessmen had bought Schellenbacher’s seat in the National Council. The men are said to have paid a total of ten million euros to the FPÖ and the then party leader Heinz-Christian Strache for his entry into parliament, a witness reported in an affidavit. Strache and his party at the time denied this. SZ and Spiegel Meanwhile, several photos were leaked in 2019 that show bundles of cash and that are said to have been taken in Strache’s company car – at the time when Schellenbacher surprisingly got a place on the FPÖ electoral list.
The second alleged escape helper is also an illustrious figure. For a long time Martin W. was number three in the Austrian intelligence service BVT, responsible for operational measures, but also for combating terrorism. At the end of 2017, he left the service because of health problems, but also because he was at odds with parts of the house and felt that he was being passed over when filling a top position in the authority. Since 2018 W. is still officially in the service of the Ministry of the Interior responsible for the BVT, but without a job and without remuneration.
W. and Marsalek have known each other since 2015. The ex-BVT man told confidants several times that they met on the sidelines of a cyber security conference in Vienna. When W. left BVT, he turned to Marsalek some time later. He then brought him together with Aleksander V., a friend and financial investor who had his office at Prinzregentenstrasse 61 in Munich. W. is said to have had his own office there since the beginning of 2019. Familiar people got to hear that he was a kind of start-up scout, looking for interesting companies and developing projects for Wirecard.
Investigators accuse W. of having abused his old contacts
He had repeatedly denied that W. had used his old secret service wires for Marsalek and Wirecard. Just a few days ago, the ex-intelligence officer had told interlocutors that he had never worked directly for Jan Marsalek. He certainly did not advise the Wirecard manager on any security issues.
The Vienna public prosecutor’s office is now apparently of a different opinion. The investigators accuse W. of having abused his old contacts at BVT in order to “check the solvency of providers of pornographic Internet sites” for Wirecard, as stated in the arrest warrant. In addition to promoting Marsalek’s escape, she is investigating W. for abuse of official authority and corruption. And they suspect that other Austrian intelligence agents may have been on Jan Marsalek’s payroll.
W., whose lawyer did not respond to an SZ request, has apparently mostly spent the past few months in Dubai, where he is supposed to have an apartment and apparently wanted to gain a new professional footing – apparently with the help of Jan Marsalek. He was very upset, report companions after the Southgerman newspaper in an article in October for the first time in connection with Marsalek and reported on the meeting at “Il Sogno”. According to the findings of the Austrian investigators, he is said to have changed his cell phone number since then – “five to six times”.