Zagorec ‘sells Vienna villa’

A former Croatian politician and army general serving a jail term for abuse of office has managed to sell one of his high-profile properties in Vienna, it has been reported.Austrian weekly magazine profil has reported today (Mon) that a real estate agent employed by ex-Croatian Deputy Defence Minister Vladimir Zagorec has sold a villa in Vienna’s posh Döbling district for around 1.15 million Euros. The magazine writes that the new owner is not named in the land register yet – but quotes Nikolaus Vavrovsky, a lawyer working for Zagorec’s company as saying that “an Austrian real estate company” acquired the property.Zagorec settled in Austria 11 years ago. He was extradited for abuse of office and embezzlement of state property to Croatia in 2008 where he was sentenced to seven years in jail for these offences. Two other properties in Vienna owned by Zagorec were put up for sale recently.Reports have it that Austria’s Hypo Group Alpe Adria (HGAA), which had to be nationalised over immense losses in December 2009, financed a string of Zagorec’s controversial real estate properties in his homeland for years without checking whether the credits were covered. It has also been rumoured that the managers at the financial institute subsidised Croatia’s military armament for years.Business crime experts and police in Austria, Croatia and Germany are currently examining who can be made responsible for the near collapse of HGAA. The bank managed fast growth by focusing on doing business in Croatia and other countries in Southeast Europe before it was taken over by BayernLB (Bayerische Landesbank) for around 1.7 billion Euros in 2007 – a deal which eventually cost the German bank an overall 3.7 billion Euros.Dozens of businesspeople may go on trial for fraud and embezzlement due to the developments regarding HGAA. Former CEO Wolfgang Kulterer is however the only suspect who was put in custody so far. The former Raiffeisenbank manager, who worked for HGAA between 1992 and 2007, was freed after three months in preventive detention last November thanks to a 500,000-Euro bailout.Kulterer, who acted as HGAA’s CEO between 2002 and 2006, said he was currently cooperating with his lawyer Ferdinand Lanker to prepare his defence as he is expected to be in court later this year.Kulterer explained in a recent interview with profil that juridical officials returned his passport to him as he promised not to leave the country.Asked who coughed up the half a billion Euro bail, the businessman said: “This was a very moving experience. The moment my arrest was made public, neighbours, friends and relatives called my lawyer to ask whether they should transfer money.”Austrian newspapers and magazines published secret e-mails and other documents revealing that late Carinthian Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) Governor Jörg Haider used the bank as a vehicle to sponsor tourism marketing activities and other disputed business activities. Those documents suggest that decision-makers at HGAA rarely denied Haider’s wishes.Reports also have it that the right-winger – who died in a car crash in 2008 – managed to get BayernLB bosses to contribute 2.5 million Euros to the construction of Klagenfurt’s Wörther Lake Arena football stadium as a condition for giving his green light to the takeover. Revealed documents also show that HGAA provided a credit to an indebted private detective who was on friendly terms with Haider.New HGAA chief Gottwald Kranebitter explained last year that the institute will demand financial compensation from former bosses and political decision-makers “who caused damage to the bank”. Kranebitter said he hoped HGAA would work profitably in a few years time so it can be resold with a profit.The Austrian government coalition of the Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP) poured 450 million Euros into HGAA during its nationalisation, while BayernLB contributed 1.05 billion Euros. Other leading Austrian banks backed HGAA with around half a billion Euros to avoid a feared downturn of the Austrian financial market caused by a collapse of the Klagenfurt-based bank.