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Millions smuggled out of East Berlin in 1990s to be returned

DPA/The Local · 28 Mar 2010, 13:07

Published: 28 Mar 2010 13:07 GMT+02:00

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The money disappeared from the East Berlin trading company Novum, which belonged to the state, and is said to have been transferred to the then Österreichische Landesbank in 1992, shortly after reunification.

The then head of Novum, Rudolfine Steindling is accused of having moved the millions through an Austrian bank – now known as Bank Austria – and into a host of new accounts before anonymously investing it. The money has never been found.

Steindling spent much time in court during the 1990s, charged with creaming off millions from Novum and passing it to the Austrian communist party which had close ties to East Germany's communists. She always argued that the money belonged to East Germany's SED party, not the company.

The administrative body looking after the money belonging to the East German state after reunification, sued Bank Austria for the money in 1994, accusing it of being complicit in the money laundering.

Because Steindling transferred the money to accounts based in Switzerland, the legal arguments took place before a court in Zurich.

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Now the court has ruled the money must be returned to Germany, according to reports in the Focus magazine and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, although Bank Austria immediately said it would appeal the decision.

Should the appeal be rejected, the money would be paid to the eastern German state governments.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:35 March 28, 2010 by twisted
And does this mean that another Swiss bank has gotten its knickers in a bind again?
17:34 March 28, 2010 by bassail
I always thought Unicredit was an Italian bank. Must just be a Swiss subsidiary or holding company.
19:13 March 28, 2010 by gtappend
So can we now drop the Solidaritätszuschlag?
23:19 March 28, 2010 by peschvogel
Maybe that will help the emigration trend that still is present in 2010....East Germany is a ghost town....Similar to mining towns after the gold rush was deemed over...
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