It concerns substantial luxury pensions and the suspicion of abuse of office and infidelity. The leading roles in the current political thriller are played by Chamber of Commerce chairman Harald Mahrer, his secretary general Karlheinz Kopf and deputy Herwig Höllerer. Lawyer Manfred Arbacher-Stöger started the case. In the krone.tv conversation with moderator Conny Winiwarter, he speaks frankly: “It couldn’t have been a mistake.” On the other hand, the fact that there are ten other “special pension cases” speaks for itself. And that all documents have been irrevocably deleted.
Was it conscious calculation? “In any case,” says Arbacher-Stöger, but still refers to the prevailing presumption of innocence. There have been no special pensions since 2012, but Kopf’s special pension was approved in 2018. Even before the special pensions were abolished, the average benefit amount was four percent of the gross annual salary. In the current case, people have been quite generous: “90 percent of the gross annual salary was paid into the pension fund” – about 70,000 euros per year.
Documents deleted, external advisers, state service: ‘The thing stinks’
The Chamber of Commerce is not aware of any guilt. In Kopf’s case, it was mainly a technical problem in the implementation. The contract was legally checked and found to be correct. In 2021, legal information was also obtained from the State Department and amended legal advice was received. As a result, the agreement was terminated and a reversal with the pension fund was initiated.
Active conversion? train left
The reasoning seems conclusive, “if they hadn’t irrevocably erased all documents, made such a high pension commitment and asked external advisors whether the contract is in order, even though it has been banned since 2012.” Much of the damage has been undone, “but not all”. However, active repentance would require 100 percent of the damage to be made good – “even before an investigative body becomes active,” explains Arbacher-Stöger. You also have to show yourself. In this case, this train has clearly left.
Pension supplement as compensation?
Arbacher-Stöger, in whose office the case was opened about six weeks ago, suspects a counter agreement. The exorbitantly high – and incidentally abolished – pension supplement could have been a compensation. The public prosecutor must now ask for what, according to the lawyer. Why is it only now – a few days before the elections in Lower Austria – rolling out? “Pure coincidence, the elections in Lower Austria have nothing to do with it,” says Arbacher-Stöger.
First results in two to four weeks
Fines are sure to follow if the allegations are true. But according to the lawyer, it will not stay that way: “I cannot imagine that there are only fines for civil servants.” Up to ten years in prison are possible. “The first decent results should be available within two to four weeks.”
You can see the entire conversation with Manfred Arbacher-Stöger in the video above. KroneLIVE can be seen from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m.
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