Monday, 10. March 2014 - 00:03
11. 12. 12. - 14:00
Austrian prosecutors have lost the first round in the bribery case against a controversial aristocrat with a castle in Scotland over claims he acted as an intermediary to pay out cash to win favours and contracts for BAE Systems.
BAE lobbyist Count Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly, 59, is facing a court case in Vienna, Austria, this week over bribery and corruption charges that were dropped in the UK.
After he was released from investigative custody in the UK the Count was given 372,000 GBP of UK taxpayers money because of his temporary stay in a UK jail. He complained he had not been allowed a comb and fresh underpants when he was put under investigation for the charges that were later dropped by the British Serious Fraud Office (SFO).
But now he is to go on trial in Austria this week over the same allegations (Dec 12).
But in advance of the case prosecutors had wanted to get the court to authorise that his palace home could not be sold off or transferred so that it can be seized at the end of the case if the count is ordered to pay damages or a fine.
However the High Court ruled that in advance of a conviction it was not possible to do this and rejected the application.
In the United Kingdom the SFO had started the Austrian investigation by asking officials in Vienna for help over allegations that the Count and a British relative who died in 2007 were key players in a network designed to launder cash that was then used in bribes to secure lucrative defence contracts.
But while the SFO suddenly announced that it was "no longer in the public interest to continue the investigation into the conduct of individuals" in February, the Austrian probe has continued.
In the UK the Count owns Dalnaglar Castle in Perthshire and a home in London's Sloane Square, and was awarded 372,000 GBP and an apology for his arrest. In Austria he now risks losing his woodland estate - and jail for up to 5 years on the same charges.
Although initially bogged down in trying to trace a complicated network of front companies that handled billions in transactions, Austrian prosecutors suddenly made headway with the arrest of a fraudulent Italian broker Gianfranco Lande, who offered a plea bargain deal with details of an arms trade bribery network.
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