France remembers the revolution of 1789 and the storming of the Bastille on July 14th. In Burgenland, July 14th has been the day of the inglorious overthrow of a small bank run by founder Martin Pucher, almost absolutistically, since last year.
At 11.43 p.m., the financial market supervisory authority announced by broadcast that the “Commerzialbank Mattersburg im Burgenland AG (…) will be prohibited from operating with immediate effect”. Because the ramifications of the bankruptcy are now as confusing as the Amazon Delta, here is a brief synopsis of important data.
The amount of damage? In the insolvency proceedings of the Commerzialbank, around 400 creditors have registered claims of 820 million euros, according to the trustees Gerwald Holper and Michael Lentsch (Kosch & Partner Rechtsanwälte). After adjusting for malversations, the level of over-indebtedness is around 700 million euros. According to the credit protection officers of 1870, this is the third largest bankruptcy case in Austrian economic history and the largest bankruptcy in Burgenland.
Who is being accused? The Economic and Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (WKStA) lists around 30 suspects, including ten companies, around ex-bank bosses Pucher and Franziska Klikovits. There are still no charges. The trustees have brought claims for damages against the bank auditor TPA Wirtschaftsprüfung and the Republic of Austria for “years of failure of the organs”.
How did the bankruptcy come about? Pucher claims to have illegally withdrawn around 40 million euros and given it to “his” (also insolvent) SV Mattersburg. According to court expert Karl Hengstberger, 404 bogus credit accounts have also been found so far. Damage 2007 to 2020: 123.2 million euros. The system of concealment has not yet been completely clarified, the whereabouts of many millions are puzzling.
And politics? Against the will of the SPÖ, which ruled with an absolute majority, the ÖVP, FPÖ and Greens had set up a committee of inquiry in Burgenland. Trial judge Walter Pilgermair was able to determine after six months “no involvement of a political body or an administrative body of the state (…) in the malversations”. The ÖVP was still able to record a success: After their report, the WKStA is investigating LH Hans Peter Doskozil and FMA boss Helmut Ettl because of suspected false statements in the U-Committee. The only political victim so far is SPÖ Provincial Councilor Christian Illedits, who had to resign three years ago in August 2020 after receiving a gold gift from SV Mattersburg on his 60th birthday three years ago.