Signa founder: House search in René Benko’s luxury villa

Signa founder: House search in René Benko’s luxury villa
Signa founder: House search in René Benko’s luxury villa

Austrian investigators have the Signa founder in their sights. The ex-billionaire is suspected of alleged credit fraud and bribery. Benko’s property and offices have been searched.

The Austrian Economic and Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (WKStA) has searched a villa belonging to Signa founder René Benko. The operation in Innsbruck on Tuesday was to “secure any documents and items relating to the allegations that have already been reported in the media,” Benko’s lawyer told the German Press Agency. The lawyer described the operation by the public prosecutor’s office and the police as “very professional,” and said Benko was “cooperative and constructive.”

Signa Holding in Innsbruck, the luxury real estate company Signa Prime and the real estate developer Signa Development in Vienna were also investigated on Tuesday, according to information from the dpa. The holding’s insolvency administrator, Christof Stapf, began securing the necessary data together with experts in December and is working closely with the authorities, the administrator said. The WKStA is investigating the founder of the insolvent real estate and trading group Signa in various suspected cases: On the one hand, an investigation is underway into alleged credit fraud. This concerns the suspicion that solvency was feigned when extending loans. On the other hand, the public prosecutor’s office is examining whether the 47-year-old former billionaire tried to bribe a high-ranking Austrian tax official. Benko’s lawyers have rejected all allegations. Neither the lawyer nor the WKStA would say whether one of these aspects or both strands of the investigation were the focus of the search.

The Signa Group, which was built up by the Austrian entrepreneur Benko and recently collapsed and has numerous department stores in Germany, is in insolvency proceedings. Many stores have been or are being sold to pay off debts amounting to billions.

Source: Stern

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