Is the arrest coming?

New Benko bombshell: allegation of loan fraud

16.04.2024 12:30

The next bombshell in the investigations surrounding René Benko's insolvent Signa Holding. In addition to the allegations in Germany and Liechtenstein, there is now talk of suspected fraud in Austria for the second time - an Austrian bank is said to have been deceived, again with losses running into millions ...

According to information from the "Krone" newspaper, the Public Prosecutor's Office for Economic Affairs and Corruption (WKStA) has opened a further investigation. Explosive: Benko himself is listed as a defendant (for the first time in Austria). He is joined by another Signa manager and Signa Prime Holding GmbH as a company.

The specific allegation in the case is that an Austrian bank was deceived about the financial situation of the Signa Group when a loan was granted in the summer of 2023. The WKStA literally calls this "fraud due to alleged pretense of solvency in the extension of bank loans".

25 million euros in losses
At this point - according to the WKStA's suspicions - everyone involved should have already been aware that it would no longer be possible to repay such a loan. The damage resulting from this alleged deception is estimated at more than 25 million euros. If the loss exceeds 300,000 euros, there is a risk of up to ten years in prison.

The investigators' noose around the financially troubled real estate juggler René Benko and his Signa continues to tighten. (Bild: Sepp Pail, APA/Roland Schlager, Krone KREATIV)
The investigators' noose around the financially troubled real estate juggler René Benko and his Signa continues to tighten.

Specifically, it is suspected that Benko himself acted as "de facto managing director" for Signa, conducted financing discussions himself and also corresponded with the banks.

"Fraud, breach of trust, fraudulent crida"
The background to these investigations is a complaint filed by lawyer Johannes Zink. However, when asked by the "Krone", he did not wish to comment on the content of the ongoing investigations. Johannes Zink: "I can only confirm that our law firm has filed several criminal complaints on behalf of various injured parties in the Signa case. This involves fraud, breach of trust and fraudulent crida."

Pre-trial detention possible?
Of course, the presumption of innocence continues to apply to Benko and Co. However, judicial insiders are now expecting new coercive measures - (further) house searches are possible, for example. It is also said that pre-trial detention can no longer be ruled out. For example, there could be a risk of concealment and a risk of absconding.

Everything "completely unfounded" for lawyers
Benko's lawyer Norbert Wess has now at least confirmed that the public prosecutor's office is personally investigating his client. He has inspected the files, is aware of the allegations made and rejects them as "completely unfounded".

For Benko, this is not the first case that has been officially brought against him personally. The Munich public prosecutor's office is investigating allegations of money laundering - this was also rejected as "unfounded" by Benko's Munich lawyer Florian Ufer.

The public prosecutor's office in Liechtenstein recently confirmed to "Inside Paradeplatz" - following a "Krone" revelation - that criminal proceedings had been opened. Benko himself is also likely to be the focus here.

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