The Corruption Prosecutor ordered a seizure in the ministry: All emails related to Novomatic and the Italian tax debts must be delivered.
The search of the business and corruption prosecutor for incriminating material in the Novomatic and Gernot Blümel case continues. On Friday, ÖVP finance minister Gernot Blümel will make his first statement to public prosecutors. On Wednesday, investigators at the Ministry of Finance appeared with an “order to secure”, dated February 23, 2021 (available to the KURIER).
The WKStA requests the following items from the Ministry of Finance to be secured:
“All e-mails in the Federal Ministry of Finance, related ELAKs (electronic files), other data and physical data carriers (and related backups and backup copies), as well as other documents and evidence from which information about the donation offer and appointment requests by Mag. Neumann on July 12, 2017, on the communication with Sebastian Kurz and other persons based on this offer, on possible cash flows from Mag. Neumann or Novomatic AG or a subsidiary belonging to the group to Sebastian Kurz, ÖVP or related third parties as well as to everyone Implementation measures related to this, namely any action taken by employees of the BMF including cabinet employees in the tax matter Novomatic AG result (…) “
Here the WKStA is particularly interested in the correspondence from and to the ex-head of cabinet Thomas Schmid and other officials in the Ministry of Finance. In addition, the WKStA is looking for communication at civil servant level between Austria and the Italian tax officials.
We are also looking for documents and data relating to any effects of the Italian audit procedures and results on the Novomatic.
The Corruption Prosecutor is examining whether the gaming company Novomatic offered the ÖVP money in exchange for support with a tax problem in Italy in 2017. A calendar entry at Novomatic founder Johann Graf about a meeting with “Kurz” during this time caused debate. Former Novomatic supervisory board member Martina Kurz made an affidavit to this effect. Graf’s daughter-in-law confirmed that she, and not today’s Chancellor Kurz, met the gambling billionaire on July 25, 2017.
From a formal point of view, a seizure is not a house search, but a similar means of coercion by the public prosecutor’s office. Here the investigators do not search for emails, files, etc. in the ministry themselves, but request certain files from the finance ministry, which then has to deliver them. Another difference to a house search is that it does not require a judicial authorization. The decision is made by the public prosecutor. The usual way would actually be for the WKStA to apply for administrative assistance. The WKStA apparently did not want to go this way.
The order clearly shows that the WKStA is still looking for an intervention by Sebastian Kurz in Italy. If, however, there was no donation from Novomatic to the ÖVP or ÖVP associations, then this intervention, if it happened at all, would not be relevant under criminal law. The reason: Business people repeatedly bring requests and complaints to politicians – work and state visits in particular serve to create better economic conditions for Austrian companies in other countries.