Trial against René Benko: Entrepreneur suspected of corruption

So many prominent Austrian entrepreneurs have rarely been involved in criminal proceedings before the Vienna Regional Court on suspicion of corruption. Almost a dozen figures from the business world have to answer. All emphasize their innocence.

Michael Seiser

Business correspondent for Austria and Hungary based in Vienna.

In the center, however, is a politician, the former Viennese local politician of the Greens Christoph Chorherr. According to the prosecution, the former member of the municipal council, who was among other things the planning spokesman for his parliamentary group, demanded or accepted payments from well-known real estate companies for a non-profit association he had initiated. In return, the donors are said to have promised themselves advantages in the approval process.

The business and corruption prosecutor accuses Chorherr of abuse of office and bribery, the prominent entrepreneurs provision for abuse of office and bribery in different forms of participation. The co-defendants include the Tyrolean investor and department store king René Benko, the industrialist Michael Tojner and the real estate developer Erwin Soravia.

Chorherr, his defense attorney assured in the opening speech on Tuesday, was of the opinion that one should communicate with the citizens of the city on an equal footing – also with real estate entrepreneurs. He represented the working hypothesis that this was the only way to best protect the interests of the city. He was never asked to make a return service for donations. It was always played with open cards.

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