Investor in the sights of the judiciary: Austria’s judiciary accuses Benko of credit fraud

Investor in the sights of the judiciary
Austria’s justice system accuses Benko of credit fraud

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In Austria, the judiciary is investigating star investor Rene Benko. The 46-year-old is said to have deceived a bank about his ability to pay when extending a loan worth millions.

Rene Benko, founder of the insolvent Signa Group, has now found himself in the sights of the Austrian justice system. The Economic and Corruption Public Prosecutor’s Office (WKStA) has initiated investigations into suspected fraud, a spokesman for the authority said upon request.

In addition to Benko personally, a Signa company and another person are also being investigated. The accusation was “fraud due to alleged pretense of solvency when extending bank loans,” said the spokesman. According to the report, it concerns a 25 million loan from an Austrian bank, which Benko is said to have deceived the institute about the Signa Group’s financial situation when it was extended last summer.

Benko’s lawyer Norbert Wess confirmed the investigation. “We were informed of this matter by the WKStA some time ago,” the lawyer told Reuters. “The allegations that have been made here are baseless and have no basis. We are cooperating fully with the WKStA in this regard and will inform them of our point of view as soon as possible.”

The lawyer for the bank concerned, Johannes Zink, told ORF Radio that Benko himself acted as the de facto managing director and conducted the financing discussions for the Signa Group. The lawyer said to the daily newspaper “Kronen Zeitung”: “I can only confirm that our law firm has filed several criminal complaints for various victims in the Signa case. This involves fraud, breach of trust and fraudulent Krida.”

Munich public prosecutor’s office is investigating suspicions of money laundering

The Tyrolean investor’s Signa Group is the biggest victim of the real estate crisis in Europe to date. The heavily indebted real estate giant was suffering from rapidly rising interest rates and the resulting fall in valuations, which led to an increased need for liquidity. The bankruptcy is the largest in Austrian economic history. Several investigations are already underway into the collapse of the conglomerate.

In March, the WKStA announced that it was investigating a managing director of a Signa project company for serious fraud relating to a capital raising measure. The suspicion is that investments from investors were not invested in the promised projects. The amount of damage is still under investigation. According to the authorities, numerous reports relating to the Signa Group had previously been received. In addition, the Munich public prosecutor’s office is investigating suspected money laundering at the Signa Group.

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