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Austria: Deputy Govenor Duchatczek Steps Back

Published: June 25, 2013; 17:48 · (Vindobona)

After 37 years of service Duchatczek resigns from his position as Deputy Govenor of the Austrian National Bank (OeNB).

Austria: Deputy Govenor Duchatczek Steps Back / Picture: © Oesterreichische Nationalbank AG (OeNB)

With immediate effect, Wolfgang Duchaczek has resigned from his position as Deputy Govenor and member of the Governing Board of the Austrian National Bank (OeNB), as announced by his lawyer Herwig Hauser today. Duchatczek justifies this step due to “important reasons” and refers to the leave of absence sanctioned by the General Council.

According to his lawyer, Duchaczek now hopes to contribute to the improvement of the situation and to meet the intentions of the presidency of the OeNB so that an escalation of the conflict and fidelity damage could be avoided.

After the charge, which is not yet legally binding, against Duchatczek because of dubious business of OeNB affiliates OeBS and Austrian Mint (Münze Österreich), OeNB has decided on his immidiate suspension. According to Duchatczek’s lawyer Herwig Hauser, the OeNB’s council exceeded its authority with the decision of suspending the deputy govenor. Hauser points out that the suspension of a member of the board of directors can only be made by the government with the agreement of the Austrian president and considers the decision as “legally not justified”. The National Bank, on the other hand, emphasized that the council was obliged to act in case of an event of serious fault. Therefore, a suspension was justified. Furthermore, the OeNB claims of having been informed about the legal measures.

After a further examination of the facts in the next session on June 27, the OeNB will decide upon the next steps. Govenor Ewald Nowotny will temporarily take over the areas led by Duchatczek so far. The position will be taken over by Andreas Ittner on July 11, as determined.

Apart from Duchatczek, eight other people face various charges including abetting breach of trust bribery, money laundering and other criminal offences, as stated by the Vienna prosecutors. According to the prosecution, the charges relate to efforts by the OeNB’s banknote printing unit, and in some cases also the Austrian Mint, to land contracts from Azerbaijan and Syria between June 2005 and June 2011. The Vienna prosecutors say that officials from Syria and Azerbaijan received kickbacks in exchange for placing orders with the OeNB’s banknote subsidiary, which was in financial difficulties, having signed a disadvantageous contract with the central bank of Singapore.

Duchatczek, who was due to step down from the national bank in three weeks’ time, was a member of the supervisory board of the OeNB’s banknote printing subsidiary OeBS from 1998, becoming its chairman in 2004.

The retirement, which is connected to Duchachek’s stepping back, which would have taken place in July, is therefore antedated only by a few days. It is a legal contractual right, which is valid for every employee of OeNB due to age and number of years in service.

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