The balance sheet scandal at the commercial bank Mattersburg has reached politics. Over the years, two prosecutors, banking regulators and finance, have identified. Without a result.

It was probably inevitable: the balance sheet scandal at the commercial bank Mattersburg now leads to violent political disputes. “A discussion begins that no longer cares about the facts,” said Burgenland’s SPÖ governor Hans Peter Doskozil on the weekend. A statement that is understandable for two reasons. First, a political exchange of blows is rarely used to find the truth. Secondly, the ÖVP and FPÖ are increasingly shooting at the SPÖ Burgenland. For Doskozil this is of course anything but pleasant.

The party’s deputy general secretary, Gaby Schwarz, formulated the ÖVP standpoint at the weekend. There is an “increasing question of who is examining the legal responsibility of the SPÖ state government,” she said. And: “After all, it is the state of Burgenland that has the supervision of the credit cooperative.” This credit cooperative holds around 80 percent of the commercial bank Mattersburg. In any case, Schwarz continued, Doskozil was trying to “escape his responsibility in this scandal”. After all, Doskozil – before he became governor – was a financial state councilor. With his criticism of the judiciary, he is just trying to distract him from it.

Doskozil, who, according to the state government’s divisional division, is also responsible for the country’s banking system, announced an official liability suit on Friday. Documents that were leaked to him would suggest that “the prosecutor’s office and financial administration didn’t work,” he said.

First indications 2015

These documents, which are also available to the “Profile” and the ORF, actually raise a lot of questions. It is clear from them that an anonymous whistle-blower already contacted the Economic and Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (WKStA) and the Financial Market Authority (FMA) on June 25, 2015: Commercial bank chief Martin Pucher and his colleague on the board, reported the secret informant , lent on a large scale. And this without having informed the organs of the bank.

All sorts of investigations with the participation of several authorities followed. For years.

  • The WKStA has 2015 According to the “profile”, an act about Pucher and other suspects was created. It was about suspicion of infidelity. At the same time, the FMA was asked for support, which in turn informed the National Bank. So a lot of positions were involved, but nothing came out of it: The suspicion expressed by the “whistleblower” allegedly could not be substantiated, the corruption prosecutor’s office therefore closed the case against Pucher “for lack of initial suspicion”. That was in January 2016.

    Whereby: According to “Profile”, the National Bank’s auditors had come across strange things: A customer with a poor credit rating had received a loan from Mattersburger Bank – and had subscribed the participation capital of the Commerzialbank with the money. The interest on this capital was higher than that on the loan. Quite a loss business for the bank.

  • The FMA showed this case in December 2015 ex officio with the public prosecutor’s office in Eisenstadt. Again with no result.
  • 2017 there was another review by the National Bank’s banking regulator. Again nobody wants to have found anything.
  • Even as yourself 2018 the tax office in Bruck-Eisenstadt-Oberwart became interested in the strange events in the bank had no consequences. Finanz had discovered hundreds of bogus invoices totaling EUR 10.5 million from a member of the Commerzialbank Supervisory Board. All processed through accounts at the commercial bank.
  • In February 2020 After another clue, things got moving. There was renewed information from a whistleblower, according to which the bank had granted unsecured loans, some of which were exclusively “supervised by the board”. This means that employees would not have had full account access.

Meanwhile, the suspicion is being investigated that bank chief Martin Pucher has systematically falsified loans, credit balances and ultimately balance sheets for years. A good half of the total assets of EUR 800 million do not exist.

FPÖ leader Norbert Hofer said at the weekend that the FPÖ would ensure “that the party political implications are fully clarified”. Martin Pucher had to be stripped of the state badge of honor awarded at the time. And so everyone sets their priorities.

[QMXKL]

(“Die Presse”, print edition, 07/27/2020)