Investigations into the Ibizia affair continue
The New Year is barely a few weeks away old, the investigations into the Ibiza affair are already going on. This time the manager of Novomatic is interrogated as a witness and the focus is on the topic of sponsorship. We reveal whether there are already results of the investigation and how it could go on.
Novomatics manager Eva Glawischnig being interrogated
A few ago days the message was published that nowNovomatics manager Eva Glawischnig is to be interrogated. This is also no wonder, since the sentence "Novomatic pays everyone" was already in the press a few years ago. This sentence appeared from former Vice-Chancellor Heinz Christian Strache in the famous video that started the Ibiza affair.
This message was not well received by everyone. So far, attempts have been made to prevent the former leader of the Green Party from being summoned. Already in December, the parties SPÖ, the Greens, FPÖ and Neos prevented Eva Glawischnig from being interrogated. Now thesubpoena is called a defeat for the red-pink underground committee coalition. Thus, only the ÖVP party has a positive attitude towards the new procedure. The reason given is that Ms. Glawischnig had numerous contacts to politically important people in her position at the time and was also employed at Novomatic. The outcome of the survey is therefore eagerly awaited.
Former manager of Novomatic already interviewed
Eva Glawischnig has only been a manager at Novomatic since 2018. In order to get an insight into the time before,the former managerMartin Schwarzbartl was interviewed. This also happened this year. The main topic was the sponsorship of Novomatic. Schwarzbartl denied that there was even a grain of truth in Strache's statement. In addition, at that time an internal check would have been carried out to determine whether there was anything in the statement.
The result of the internal check: Although some donations and sponsorships could be found, these did not go to political associations or even parties. Only the areas of sport, art and culture are said to have been promoted. The check regarding theAlois Mock Institute would not have revealed any illegal payments either. This could have been critical, since the committee chairman, Wolfgang Sobotka, is the institute's president. But here, too, the checks have revealed nothing.
In the further course of the survey, the summer party of the ÖVP Lower Austria came up for discussion.This festival was sponsored by Novomatic. But this was not seen as a major problem, since no federal politicians are involved here. In this context, the term party proximity was mentioned. However, Schwarzbartl is not aware of any special emails for this case. So he cannot confirm here either that Novomatic pays everyone.
Club sponsorship is not a sponsorship of politicians
Schwarzbartl admitted that certain sports clubs were sponsored. But there is no support or even bribery of politics to be seen in this. After all, it is normal for politicians to do other things in their free time orthey sponsor sports clubs. Just because a politician happens to be active in the sports club that Novomatic also sponsors, no payment for politics can be seen. Therefore, nothing could be found out in the case of the Waidhofen/Ybbs chamber orchestra.
The renewed questioning of Christian Illedits - ex-counsellor of Burgenland - did not bring any new insights. Iledits was asked about the donations to thefootball club ASV Draßburg, of which he is President. However, Iledits does not see his political club being sponsored or even bribed if the football club receives a sponsorship from Novomatic. He unified the question of whether he received money from Novomatic to shape certain laws. He did not provide any information about the known video.
There have been 26 committee meetings so far, none of which have produced any meaningful information. It is therefore still being followed with interest whether further witnesses will be called and when the investigations will be completed.
The next step for Novomatic
In the coming weeks, the Ibiza Committee would like to deal more with the video. A special security room is designed for this purpose. Until then, Novomatic will have to deal with the effects of the negotiations. The regular negative news andnegotiations have already damaged Novomatic's reputation. It is partly the case that Novomatic has already withdrawn from Austria. In addition, CEO Harald Neumann has already left the company.
However, it is currently difficult to assess whether Novomatic is suffering from a decline in sales because the corona pandemic is not yet over or whether this is already an effect of the negotiations. According to the latest reports, the land-based business is at a standstill and thegroup has 80 percent decline. Foreign business is also included in the declining figures. The composition of the latest sales figures has not yet been published. So far, only the numbers from 2019 are known. At that time, Novomatic was still able to generate sales of 2.6 billion euros.
Novomatic has been trying to strengthen the online market for a long time. This is to offset the losses made with the local businesses. This idea did not come about because of the corona pandemic. Novomatic had previously announced that the focus would be shifted.