Ex-Austrian central banker says unaware of bribery

by Reuters
Wednesday, 5 March 2014 12:22 GMT

In this 2011 file photo, a man passes the headquarters of Oesterreichische Banknoten- und Sicherheitsdruck Gmbh (OeBS), a company of Austria's central bank OeNB printing Euro banknotes in Vienna REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

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VIENNA, March 5 (Reuters) - A former deputy governor of Austria's central bank told a court on Wednesday that he did not know its money-printing unit had paid bribes to win contracts in Azerbaijan and Syria, the Austria Press Agency reported.

Wolfgang Duchatczek, who was also chairman of the OeBS banknote unit, said on Wednesday he had trusted the OeBS management and knew of payments but believed them to have been made for genuine services, the agency said.

Duchatczek and eight others are accused of bribery, abetting breach of trust, money-laundering and forming a criminal association for the payment of bribes to the Azeri and Syrian national banks between 2005 and 2011.

Three of the defendants including ex-OeNB head Michael Wolf have pleaded guilty. They face up to 10 years in jail.

Asked by the judge whether the two countries concerned were not "rather dubious markets", Duchatczek replied: "Azerbaijan and Syria were not rogue nations for us."

Duchatczek, who resigned from the central bank last June after being charged and then suspended, added that he had never in his 40 years at the bank heard of central banks paying bribes to one another.

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan)

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