The trial against the London letterbox company City Chambers ended on Wednesday in the Vienna court. Both defendants, who were alleged to have been involved in relieving the EADS group of eight million euros, have been acquitted. There is no burden of proof for intentional damage. It cannot be established with certainty to what extent EADS has actually been damaged, the judge justified the judgment. Moreover, the limitation period has already expired. After such a long time, Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser could not remember who the suspects were on the witness stand.
The evidence is insufficient to prove that the two accused deliberately harmed the EADS group. In addition to the main suspect, a retired 75-year-old management consultant and lobbyist, the 58-year-old real estate consultant was also acquitted. Moreover, the 10-year limitation period has in any case expired in the meantime, as the law was a contractual act in June 2003. The extent to which the EADS group has actually been disadvantaged cannot be established with sufficient certainty. The alleged victim has not yet joined as a private party, according to the lawyer of the main suspect. This would further exonerate the suspect.
No consideration for eight million euros?
The claims at issue relate to events from 2003 to 2009. A representative of EADS Deutschland GmbH (EADS-D) allegedly entered into a bogus contract with City Chambers Limited in London for alleged consultancy services with the intention of enriching himself, based on of which exactly EUR 7,995.490.58 has been paid out. However, from the point of view of the Public Prosecution Service for Economic Affairs and Corruption (WKStA), there were no objections to this.
The money would have flown earlier based on incorrect activity reports. Because the two defendants – active in the lobby at the time – are alleged to have secured the sham contract with the letterbox company and then made fictitious reports about alleged advisory activities of the City Chambers for EADS-D and the associated invoices.
Former Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser was called as a witness on Wednesday. However, he had “no idea” that he had ever met the two accused. Even their names are strange to him. He also emphasized that the then governor Jörg Haider (FPÖ/BZÖ) had changed his attitude to the takeover several times. Grasser can’t remember Haider’s last position, but he described the phases in which Haider opposed taking over the Eurofighter as “political expediency”.
Accountants of contracts had no knowledge of benefits
Also called as witness was a former EADS employee who was responsible for the initial review of consultancy contracts. However, he has repeatedly emphasized that he had no knowledge of the content of the contracts. He took the contracts to another inspection body in France and signed the contract if they agreed. “I have nothing to do with the settlement. I don’t know what the performance is,” he emphasized.
The judge described the atmosphere during the hearings as “plague”, but none of the two suspects could be proven to have provided false evidence.
I am Ida Scott, a journalist and content author with a passion for uncovering the truth. I have been writing professionally for Today Times Live since 2020 and specialize in political news. My career began when I was just 17; I had already developed a knack for research and an eye for detail which made me stand out from my peers.