Ökombi will occupy the Vienna Higher Regional Court from Tuesday

After nine years of investigation, two defendants are being alleged of serious fraud and breach of trust

Ökombi will occupy the Vienna Higher Regional Court from Tuesday Bild: ÖBB

In 2010, the Vienna Economic Police took up investigations against the head of the former railway company Ökombi GmbH & Co. KG (Ökombi). Four people were alleged of breach of trust, fraud and false accounting. Ökombi, which operated a rolling highway, is the predecessor company of Rail Cargo Austria, which took over its assets in 2005, reports the newspaper “Tiroler Tageszeitung” (TT) in its weekend edition.

The ex-managing director of the former Ökombi, and the authorised signatory, who was not allowed to sign on his own, will have to answer to the court. The prosecution accuses the former manager of the crime of serious fraud and breach of trust, while the former authorised signatory is accused of contributing to serious fraud and as an instigator to breach of trust.

This is clear from the indictment, which was made available to “Tiroler Tageszeitung”. The men are supposed to have made millions of ostensible provisions and manipulated the accounting with bogus records for several years before 2005.

The presumption of innocence applies for both defendants. If convicted, imprisonment of between one and ten years is imminent. According to the indictment, 30 former owners who left the company prematurely are affected. They thus missed approximately EUR 760,000. The actual damage is likely to go much further.

For Franz Blum, the lawsuit now covers only the tip of an iceberg. The Salzburg logistics company, together with the Tyrolean tax consultant and former transport entrepreneur Peter Grüner, got the case rolling and filed a complaint in 2010. He locates political and legal arbitrariness: “They must have been fiddling on all levels.” His concern is that the cause should now be buried quickly, he said in the interview with the TT newspaper.

“They have deliberately ruined a valuable company,” says Franz Blum. Due to the presumptuous false accounting Ökombi became unsalable. This gave the impression that Ökombi management’s only option was eventually to liquidate the company – and thus an allegedly far too cheap “takeover” by the ÖBB was done.

Franz Blum estimates the resulting damage is a double digit million amount. The former owners of Ökombi presumably also have missed a lot of money. At the same time, the former manager must have procured an advantage of about EUR 8 million, Blum calculates.