Mayor carries €110,000 to Venezuela

A Styrian politician is in hot water after failing to declare over 100,000 Euros in cash visiting Venezuela.

Weekly magazine profil revealed that Andreas Grauf, the mayor of Pirka near Graz, had 110,000 Euros in the inner pocket of his jacket when he arrived in the South American country in May. According to the European Union’s (EU) anti-money laundering regulations, citizens of member states must declare cash amounts higher than 10,000 Euros when leaving their home country. Grauf did so when he departed but reportedly failed to declare the large sum upon arrival in Caracas. The Austrian Social Democrat (SPÖ) was put in detention for one night before being allowed to stay in a hotel for another two nights, profil reports. The politician was allowed to travel home afterwards.

The report by profil discloses Grauf noticed that 20,000 Euros of his money were missing when he received it after being interviewed by the Venezuelan prosecution. Grauf said he was given another 10,000 Euros after reporting the occurrence. He told profil that officials were currently facing corruption investigations – and added that the state prosecutor kept the remaining 100,000 Euros “as some sort of evidence. My Venezuelan lawyer said I will get the money back within the next few months.”

The Social Democrat refused to reveal details about his envisaged business activities in Venezuela. Speaking to profil, he only mentioned a “lucrative real estate deal” on the island of Margarita, a popular holiday destination. Grauf did not elaborate when being asked why he carried so much cash with him instead of withdrawing money when needed there or use a credit card. He explained having had the possible need to pay business fees charged by a notary or local authorities made him carry the cash.

Magazine profil reports that political rivals of Grauf’s suspect that the financial troubles care homes he manages around Graz could have to do with his obscure trip to Venezuela. Grauf dismissed claims that he was assigned to set up unneeded care homes in the region only because of his political position. Speaking about the economic challenges his business is experiencing, he told profil: “We achieved strong growth at an early stage. Now, after just two and a half years, we manage 10 (care) homes. The current, third business year, is a critical stage – this is a totally normal process. I am optimistic about an upward trend next year.”