Kulterer remains in custody

Former Hypo Group Alpe Adria (HGAA) boss Wolfgang Kulterer has had his custody extended.Klagenfurt prosecutors announced today (Mon) they decided to extend the banker’s detention over fears he might flee and try to cover up potential crimes previously carried out by him in connection with the near collapse of HGAA.Kulturer was arrested on 13 August. He is accused of being in charge among others for HGAA’s massive losses due to negligent lending policies, especially in former Yugoslavian countries.Ferdinand Lanker, Kulterer’s lawyer, branded the decision a “scandal”.”I have lost my trust in justice and the control function of our juridical system,” he added.Lanker claimed he and Kulterer managed to dismiss all accusations brought forward against his client in close cooperation with prosecutors and investigators.The advocate added there have been no additional accusations against Kulterer – who has his main residence in England – since he was put in custody in Klagenfurt earlier this month.Meanwhile, investigators continue their attempts to find out who was to blame that HGAA had to be nationalised last December.The finance ministry’s investigation commissions, CSI Hypo and SoKo Hypo, said they were focusing on 40 suspects across Europe, while People’s Party (ÖVP) Finance Minister Josef Pröll promised to ensure those responsible will be forced to pay back every single Euro.Germany’s BayernLB (Bayerische Landesbank) took over the former Carinthian provincial bank in 2007, and prosecutors’ goal is to find out whether they knew in what a bad state the institute already was in at that time – and who tricked them if they were not.Investigations also focus on a group of 46 business people who allegedly made 150 million Euros profit by investing into HGAA shortly before it was sold to BayernLB.Late Carinthian Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) Governor Jörg Haider – who died in 2008 – is suspected of having forced BayernLB officials to financially support the construction of Klagenfurt’s Hypo Group Arena football stadium, one of Austria’s Euro2008 venues.HGAA suffered net losses of 449 million Euros in the first half of this year, but new CEO Gottwald Kranebitter stressed last week the plan was still to get the institute in the black shortly and to resell it with a profit.Kranebitter also announced the bank would demand compensation “from those who caused damage to the bank” in the coming weeks.