What the count says about his “outright acquittal”

11.07.2024 06:00

Late but final judgment in the Eurofighter case. Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly, who was convicted of money laundering in 2022, has now been acquitted outright by the Higher Regional Court. The "Count" spoke to the "Krone" about the acquittal in the last case still pending against him.

After 19 years, it is now over. Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly - also known as "Count Ali" for short - stood trial for the last time on Wednesday. There were a total of four charges against him. This time he was acquitted. To be more precise: the Higher Regional Court turned a conviction for money laundering into an acquittal with six months' imprisonment and 50,000 euros in restitution.

"Now you have eternal peace"
"My lawyer said as I left the courtroom: 'So, now you have eternal peace. I myself felt that all the proceedings against me were ridiculous," Mensdorff-Pouilly told the "Krone" newspaper. It was the second case brought against him in which he was accused of money laundering in the Eurofighter case.

In 2013 there was an acquittal, in 2022 a conviction - and on Wednesday the Vienna Higher Regional Court overturned the guilty verdict of the Vienna Regional Court and acquitted the defendant. The verdict is final. The public prosecutors have had little success with the Eurofighter case. Michael Radasztics was still the public prosecutor at the time of the first indictment in 2013. Radasztics is now the judge who handed down the verdict in the trial against Sebastian Kurz. The WKStA tried a second attempt in 2022 in the Eurofighter case, charged "Count Ali" and failed again.  

What the "Count's" lawyer says
This comes as no surprise to Mensdorff-Pouilly's lawyer: "Mr. Mensdorff-Pouilly has been acquitted today, as there is no predicate offence suitable for money laundering, as the perpetrator of the criminal act (predicate offence) did not obtain any assets or receive any assets for its commission," Sascha König explained to the "Krone" newspaper.

Legal history

Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly had already been convicted twice before the judgment that has now been overturned. For the first time in 2013, he was sentenced to two months' conditional imprisonment for falsifying evidence. In 2015, the ÖVP-affiliated lobbyist was then convicted of involvement in embezzlement in the "Blaulicht-Funk" case.

According to the legal situation applicable to the alleged offence, the offence of money laundering would be fulfilled if the concealed assets (the "laundered money") "originated" from a criminal act. In order to "launder money" in the criminal sense, a "predicate offense" is therefore required from which this "laundered" money originates, according to a press release issued by the court on Wednesday. 

The "black cash register"
Count Ali, as Mensdorff-Pouilly is often called, was sentenced to six months conditionally with a probationary period of three years. The prosecution had accused Mensdorff-Pouilly of shifting the assets of a former division manager of the Eurofighter manufacturer EADS. The majority of these assets were allegedly endowed as "a slush fund for purposes outside the legitimate business interests of EADS-D".

What remains of 19 years of investigations
What remains of 19 years of investigations against Mensdorff-Pouilly? A guilty verdict for involvement in embezzlement and falsification of evidence. He had to wear an ankle bracelet for three months in his castle in Luissing. Count Ali did not even have to transfer the court-ordered repayments of 1.1 million euros plus interest to Telekom. "Telekom waived the payment because they thought they had received a benefit from me. Telekom was more decent than the court," Mensdorff-Pouilly told the "Krone" newspaper. And he described the ankle bracelet as "funny". "That was something else for once," Mensdorff describes. In general, the lobbyist said that investigations against him were only interesting because he is married to former ÖVP Health Minister Maria Rauch-Kallat.

"Then there's my name. That made me interesting. Fortunately, I'm no longer in the spotlight today." Unsurprisingly, he thinks little of public prosecutors, but a lot of the highest judges. "I am surprised by the objectivity of the higher court," says Mensdorff.

This article has been automatically translated,
read the original article here.

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