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BayernLB sues ex-execs over Austrian debacle

Bavaria's state-owned regional bank BayernLB said Tuesday it would sue former board members for damages over its disastrous 2007 purchase of a majority stake in Austrian lender Hypo Group Alpe Adria (HGAA).

BayernLB sues ex-execs over Austrian debacle
Photo: DPA

A source at the German lender told new agency AFP that the bank would file suit against eight former directors this week, seeking damages of around €200 million ($285 million).

Real estate lender HGAA, Austria’s sixth-largest bank, came close to collapse during the global financial crisis and had to be nationalised in late 2009 in order to prevent a potentially disastrous domino effect in the region.

The episode cost BayernLB €3.7 billion and was a major contributor to the bank having to be bailed out itself with billions of euros in German taxpayers’ money.

German public prosecutors are already investigating former managers for alleged abuse of trust over the acquisition.

HGAA, which was hit hard after loans went bad in the Balkans, has also been plagued by scandals in recent years, with Austrian authorities probing it for conspiracy, fraud, embezzlement, money laundering and false accounting.

Flamboyant Austrian far-right leader Jörg Haider, who died in a drink-driving accident in 2008, was also suspected of having received illegal payments as part of BayernLB’s takeover.

A former BayernLB director, Gerhard Gribkowsky, was also arrested in January on suspicion of pocketing tens of millions in illegal payments from a 2005 deal that shook up the ownership of Formula One.

AFP/mry

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CRIME

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.

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