Austrian Economic Legal Issues and Insolvencies

Read the latest headlines about laws, jurisdictions and court decisions in Vienna and Austria with reference to the international interest

Financial Turbulence and Internal Conflicts Shake Signa Group Severely

The Signa Group's financial crisis reached a new peak when creditors filed claims totaling EUR 6.3 billion against Signa Prime, of which only EUR 2.6 billion were recognized by the restructuring administrator Norbert Abel. The hearing at the Vienna Commercial Court revealed that the group's financial difficulties are deeper than previously thought, with a significant proportion of the claims in dispute.

February 26, 2024

Financial Market Authority Initiates Investigations Against Raiffeisen Bank International

The Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA) has launched an investigation into Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI). The focus is on possible deficiencies in the implementation of money laundering prevention measures, as can be seen from the bank's annual report published today.

February 25, 2024

Decline in Frozen Russian Assets in Austria

The significant drop in the volume of frozen Russian assets in Austria, as observed over the past year, mirrors a broader trend seen in other countries, where the handling and status of these assets have been dynamic and subject to legal, political, and financial considerations.

February 21, 2024

Austria's Foreign Minister Schallenberg Criticizes Italy's Transit Lawsuit

Austria's Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg has sharply criticized Italy after the country decided to take legal action against Austria's Alpine transit regulations before the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

February 17, 2024

Signa Group's Luxury Properties up for Sale: A Glimmer of Hope for the Redevelopment

Signa Prime Selection AG, a major player in the luxury real estate market, is currently facing financial difficulties that could now be alleviated by the planned sale of some of its most prestigious properties. Karl-Heinz Götze, the insolvency manager of the credit protection association KSV1870, sees this step as a crucial "piece of the puzzle" for an orderly resolution of Signa Prime's insolvency proceedings.

February 14, 2024

Austria Plans to Withdraw from Russian Gas Contracts

In a decisive step against continued energy dependence, Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens) announced that she would end the gas supply contracts between OMV and the Russian company Gazprom. The contracts, which run until 2040 and oblige Austria to purchase significant quantities, are under critical review. Gewessler commissioned the Economic Research Institute (WIFO) to carry out a detailed analysis of the economic consequences of termination and the risks of continued dependency.

February 12, 2024

Signa-Retail Company Lamarr Declares Bankruptcy

The highly anticipated Lamarr Kaufhaus project on Mariahilfer Straße in Vienna, set to include a flagship department store and hotel, has filed for bankruptcy. This development comes as a significant blow, as the project, originally slated for completion in 2025, has faced financial turmoil. The insolvency was confirmed by the Creditors' Protection Association KSV 1870 on Friday.

February 4, 2024

Realignment and Expert Dialog: Austria's Path to Fair Competition

The new head of the Federal Competition Authority (BWB), Natalie Harsdorf-Borsch, has set herself the goal of taking stronger action against companies that abuse their market power. This focus marks a strategic reorientation of the BWB, which previously dealt primarily with price agreements and investigated fewer cases of abuse of market power.

January 28, 2024

Austrian Justice Minister Zadić Plans Reforms in Connection with the Signa Insolvency

The insolvency of the Signa real estate company has far-reaching consequences, which are now also prompting the Austrian Ministry of Justice under the leadership of Green Justice Minister Alma Zadić. In a five-point plan in response to Signa's insolvency, Zadić plans to significantly tighten the penalties for failing to submit balance sheets.

January 24, 2024

Signa Prime and Development: Future Secured Despite Insolvency

The future of the two important branches of the Signa Group, Signa Prime and Signa Development, seems secure for the time being.

January 15, 2024

Austrian Banking Sector Focuses on Sustainability: OeKB > ESG Data Hub Established

In a remarkable step towards promoting sustainability in the financial sector, Oesterreichische Kontrollbank (OeKB) has successfully introduced the OeKB > ESG Data Hub. Around 80% of the domestic banking sector, including well-known institutions such as UniCredit Bank Austria, Raiffeisen-Sektor, Erste Bank, and Sparkassen as well as Oberbank, already use this central online platform.

January 11, 2024

Financial Crisis at Signa: Bankruptcy Proceedings Initiated for Subsidiaries

The financial difficulties of Signa's flagship Signa Prime Selection lead to further negative developments within the group.

January 8, 2024

Signa Crisis: Call to Investors for Financial Support

Signa Holding, a prominent real estate company, is facing financial difficulties. Erhard Grossnigg, the Chief Restructuring Officer of the Signa subsidiaries Prime and Development, has sent a letter to investors urgently requesting additional funding.

January 4, 2024

Emirati State Fund Mubadala Fails with Claim Against Signa Holding

The Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, Mubadala, has failed with a significant claim against the insolvent Signa Holding. The request to claim a payment of 713 million euros was rejected in emergency arbitration proceedings.

December 21, 2023

New Second Home Tax in Vienna in 2025

Vienna is implementing new measures to regulate second homes. From 2025, an annual tax will be introduced for people who have a secondary residence in Vienna but do not have their main residence there.

December 21, 2023

Vienna Commercial Court Establishes Creditors' Committee for Signa Holding

The Austrian Signa Holding, founded in 2000 by René Benko, is currently facing major challenges. The Commercial Court of Vienna has set up a creditors' committee for the ongoing reorganization proceedings to examine the non-transparent structures of the Signa Group and to decide on the reorganization plan offered by Signa.

December 18, 2023

Ukraine Removes Raiffeisen Bank International from the List of "War Sponsors"

The Ukrainian government has temporarily removed Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) from the controversial list of "war sponsors". This step follows intensive bilateral talks and consultations with representatives of the European Commission. RBI, which was previously criticized for its business activities in Russia and the recognition of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics by its Russian subsidiary, is now no longer suspected of supporting the Russian war of aggression.

December 17, 2023

The Future of a Crumbling Empire: René Benko's Signa Group in Insolvency

The insolvency of the Signa Group, an Austrian company active in various sectors, including the real estate market, has far-reaching implications. Read more about the future of the Austrian flagship company!

December 6, 2023

Rene Benko and the Future of the Signa Group: Silence Before the Storm?

The Austrian Signa Group once celebrated as a shining star in the real estate sky and a powerful player in the retail sector, is currently facing uncertain times and financial turbulence. Company founder Rene Benko, who has led the group from a non-operational position since 2013 and holds the majority of voting rights through his family foundations, is at the center of a heated debate about the group's future.

November 6, 2023

Italy Takes Austria to the European Court of Justice over Transit Measures

The ongoing controversy over transit measures on the Brenner route reached a new level of escalation when the Italian government decided to take Austria to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

October 16, 2023

German Car-Sharing Company Under Suspicion in Vienna for Million Euro Fraud

In a sensational move, police authorities in Germany and Austria have launched extensive investigations into a German car-sharing company, overshadowed by a blatant suspicion of multimillion-dollar parking fee fraud. The investigations are targeting the company's directors and involve alleged offenses such as gang crime, fraud, and document forgery.

October 11, 2023

EU-Mercosur Pact: Austria's Balancing Act between Trade Opportunities and Sustainability

The discussion about the free trade agreement between the EU and the Mercosur countries - Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay - is entering a new round. While some see the treaty as an opportunity to intensify trade between the two economic areas, others raise serious concerns about its impact on the environment and social standards.

September 19, 2023

Real Estate Prices in Austria Increased: Housing Increasingly Less Affordable

The cost of residential real estate in Austria has risen dramatically in recent years, significantly affecting affordability for many households. According to a recent analysis conducted by UniCredit Bank Austria, residential property prices in the euro area have risen faster than incomes. Austria has been particularly affected by this development, where property prices have actually fallen by almost 40 percent compared with incomes.

August 31, 2023

Vietnam and UN Strengthen Collaboration on Commercial Law Reforms

In a move to enhance cooperation between Vietnam and the United Nations, a significant memorandum of understanding was signed between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam and the secretariat of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).

August 21, 2023

Austria's Consumer Protection Ministry Mandates Action Against Banks for Low Interest Rates

According to the Consumer Protection Ministry, the practice of Austrian banks of charging high-interest rates on overdrafts while granting no interest at all on credit balances is meeting with growing resentment among consumers.

August 16, 2023

Austria's Successful Green Budgeting and Emission Reduction Efforts

The Climate Team, newly established in the Austrian Ministry of Finance, has presented essential results and analyses in recent months to bring Austria closer to the goal of a cost-effective and socially acceptable transformation in climate protection. In fact, the European Commission, OECD, and World Bank have all recognized Austrian green budgeting as a best practice.

July 30, 2023

Controversy Surrounds Jan Marsalek's Letter in Wirecard Scandal Trial

In connection with the Wirecard scandal trial, a letter from Jan Marsalek, a former Wirecard board member, is causing controversy. Marsalek, who has been on the run for three years, contacted the Munich Regional Court in writing through his lawyer.

July 19, 2023

OMV Secures Additional European Gas Transmission and Pipeline Capacities until 2028

The listed oil and gas group OMV has successfully secured additional European gas transport capacities and gas pipeline capacities. This measure serves to secure Austria's gas supply and enables OMV to meet its delivery obligations in the medium term.

July 12, 2023

EU Commission Expresses Concerns About Austria's Judicial System

In its published rule of law report, the EU Commission expressed several concerns about Austria. In principle, the independence of the Austrian judicial system is highly regarded, the country-specific document states.

July 12, 2023

Wirecard Trial: Entire Wirecard Asia Business Made Up

Wirecard's insolvency administrator, Michael Jaffe, has confirmed that the company's deal with supposed partners in Asia was completely fabricated, according to recent findings. This is according to Jaffe's fifth status report to the Munich District Court.

June 27, 2023

New Unitary Patent Paves the Way for Innovative Companies in Europe

As of June 1, 2023, a unitary patent (unitary patent) will be introduced that will be valid in most member states of the European Union. Austria already ranks eighth in the EU for future technologies.

June 1, 2023

Austria's Best Tax Consultants Were Awarded

The Institute for Investment Consulting (IFA AG) and the daily newspaper "Die Presse" presented the coveted "Tax Consultant of the Year" award to the best tax consultants in Austria. The festive award ceremony took place in the Sofiensälen in Vienna and was accompanied by Federal Minister of Finance Dr. Magnus Brunner as keynote speaker. More than 16,000 nominations demonstrate appreciation for both the industry and the award.

May 25, 2023

Austrian OMV Declares Exit from Russian Gas as "Extremely Difficult"

The CEO of the Austrian energy group OMV, Alfred Stern, currently sees hardly any possibility to get out of the Russian business with natural gas. He also sees no alternative to fossil fuels in the short term and talked about relations with Asia-Pacific.

March 28, 2023

Austria Wants to Bring New EU Anti-Money Laundering Authority to Vienna

Austria is bidding for the seat of the new EU Anti-Money Laundering Authority (AMLA) and wants to bring it to Vienna, Finance Minister Magnus Brunner said. However, it is still unclear whether this is feasible in the current climate of Austrian politics.

March 23, 2023

Austria Should Do More to Fight and Prevent Corruption

An evaluation report published by the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) has found that the Austrian state is doing too little to fight corruption in some areas and needs to improve its strategy on it.

March 1, 2023

Ex-OMV Chief Doubts Policy Statements on Russian Gas Pullout

Russian gas supplies to Austria are currently causing discussions. While the Austrian government wants to do without gas supplies from Russia altogether by 2027, OMV refers to long-term contracts.

March 1, 2023

Raiffeisen Probed by U.S. Sanctions Authority

Raiffeisen Bank International, an Austrian lender that plays a critical role in the Russian economy, is under investigation by the US sanctions authority over its Russia-related business.

February 18, 2023

Markus Braun Denies Any Acknowledgment in the Wirecard Trial

The Austrian businessman Markus Braun is the main defendant in the whole Wirecard-Scandal. Now he testified for the first time in court. He denied any acknowledgment of alleged crime in the company, which contradicted the testimonials of key witness Oliver Bellenhaus.

February 13, 2023

AACC and Vienna Economic Forum Signed a Memorandum of Understanding

A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce (AACC) and the Vienna Economic Forum (VEF) to enhance mutual relations and strengthen cooperation.

February 13, 2023

Combating Human Trafficking and Money Laundering Discussions Occurred at the Ministry of Finance

The Austrian Ministry of Finance invited several experts on the human trafficking and money laundering issue. They discussed possible solutions to these problems and the ministry's help in it.

February 12, 2023

Austrian Government Considers Rent Cap

In consideration of a looming rent increase in April, the coalition parties Austrian Peoples Party (OEVP) and the Green Party are now also interested in a possible rent cap.

February 6, 2023

Austrian Parliament Implements EU Directive for Better Protection of Whistleblowers

Whistleblowers are to be better protected in Austria in the future. After a delay of more than a year, the Austrian Parliament today passed a new Whistleblower Protection Act and accompanying amendments to the law, thus implementing a corresponding EU directive.

February 1, 2023

Thriller Surrounding Ex-Chief of Belarusian Raiffeisen Subsidiary

The head of the Belarusian Raiffeisen subsidiary Priorbank and ex-honorary consul of Austria in Belarus has now been released after a period of imprisonment. The Austrian diplomat Sergey Kostyuchenko, who is said to have made great contributions to bilateral relations between Minsk and Vienna, was a political prisoner of Alexander Lukashenko's regime over the last year.

January 30, 2023

Large Natural Gas Field Found in Austria

The small town of Molln in Upper Austria could make an important contribution to the gas supply of the entire country in the next few years if the conjectures prove true. Test drilling is said to have already taken place, therefore it is known that the gas is of the best quality. The Australian company ADX Energy wants to start drilling for it this spring.

January 16, 2023

Key Witness in Wirecard Trial Said that Books Were “Specifically” Adjusted

The Wirecard trial goes to the next round. The key witness in the trial confessed that the company books were hectically and specifically adjusted to fit the fraud. Those fake books were then shown to the auditor.

January 11, 2023

Vienna Establishes "External Reporting Office for EU Infringements"

An External Reporting Office for EU Legal Violations, which was set up in Vienna at the beginning of 2023 following the requirements of the EU Whistleblowing Directive, is to make it possible to report violations of EU law. Marion Winkler took over the management of the External Reporting Office with an appointment decree.

January 10, 2023

New Technical Project "Safe Registration Office" Implemented in Austria

The reporting procedure will now be automated through the project “Safe Registration Office” in Austria. This is to prevent crime, the Interior Ministry said. In addition, the "Safe Registration Office" should in future also offer a possibility for a simplified report to the local police station.

January 9, 2023

Austrian Raiffeisen Bank International Gets Under Pressure Due to Russo-Ukrainian War

Its involvement in Russia keeps Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) and its managers, led by Johann Strobl, very busy. The subsidiary institution in Moscow is RBI's biggest profit earner and almost the entire RBI board is on the Ukrainians' "awaiting sanctions" list. Whether RBI will stay in Russia and how to proceed is still unclear, as the banking group is in a tricky situation.

January 9, 2023

Ukrainians Want Raiffeisen Bankers Sanctioned

Austria's Raiffeisen Bank International is coming under pressure in Ukraine. RBI CEO Johann Strobl and another manager are on a list drawn up by Ukrainian authorities, according to which sanctions are recommended.

January 8, 2023

Abu Dhabi-based ADNOC Acquires OMV Shares from Sovereign Wealth Fund Mubadala

There is a change in the ownership structure of the Austrian oil and gas group OMV. Long-time core shareholder Mubadala, Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund, sells its 24.9 percent stake in OMV to Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), also a state-owned company. The state holding company ÖBAG announced that it had been informed of the change in ownership.

December 23, 2022