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Austria: National Assembley Rejects Investigation Committee

Published: February 26, 2014; 11:12 · (Vindobona)

The parliamentary investigation committee for Hypo Group, demanded by the opposition parties, was rejected in a roll-call vote in the National Assembley.

Austria: National Assembley Rejects Investigation Committee / Picture: © Wikipedia / JJ55 (30 March 2008)

A joint motion for the establishing of a parliamentary investigation committee was brought forward by the opposition parties FPÖ (Freedom Party), Greens, Team Stronach (TS) and NEOS. However, the motion was rejected by a majority of 95 members of parliament, who voted against, compared to 73 MPs, who were in favor.

Ahead of the vote, the opposition called for establishing a committee because it was the only way to ensure further clarification in the matter around the restructuring of ailing bank Hypo Group Alpe Adria. However, the exchange of accusations in the National Assembley engrossed the session. While both the Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) put the blame on the FPÖ in Carinthia. “Had we not not helped out Carinthia it would have come to a wildfire,” Reinhold Lopatka, chairman of ÖVP, said.

However, the FPÖ rejected what they called a “story time” and pointed out that the expansion course of Hypo Group only started under Governor of Carinthia Christof Zernatto, member of ÖVP while “turbo growth” was boosted by then-parent company BayernLB.

The opposition harshly criticized the ongoing crisis management by the government. According to Robert Lugar, member of TS, the downsizing option of a bad bank was the most expensive one. Moreover, Werner Kogler, financial spokesman of the Greens, pointed out that the “Council of the Wise” appointed by the governing parties was merely “nice to have” but under no circumstances was it a replacement for the parliamentary investigation committee.

Party leader of NEOS, Matthias Strolz, said it was a “fruitful exchange” between the government and the opposition, which, however, was only realized by opposition parties putting pressure on both SPÖ and ÖVP. Strolz presented a program which also inclused the “Insolvency Law for Unresponsible Regional Governments.”

Finance Minister Michael Spindelegger, however, reassured that the banking crisis is supposed to be overcome with the least possible financial burden for taxpayers and defended his decision to involve international experts. According to Spindelegger, one must not spare costs in regard to good expertise .

In spite of the menacing additional burden running into billions, Finance Minister Michael Spindelegger will strain the budget even more by appointing an international expert group for the downsizing of the ailing bank. According to the government, the main subject for the council is the need and realization of the emergency nationalization of the ailing bank in 2009.

Apart from the appointing of the controversial German investment banker Dirk Notheis, whose nomination was announced a few days ago, a number of other international advisors will be employed by the Finance Ministry. Currently Notheis is under investigation in Germany for suspicions of aiding and abetting breach of trust in connection with the nationalization of energy provider EnBW. At least five other experts, among them a London-based law firm, are supposed to form the consulting team.