Ibiza affair: Novomatic clears up donations
Investigations into the Ibiza affair are still not complete. A few days ago, important people were questioned again, from whom it was hoped that an explanation would be given. However, the committee came to a completely different conclusion than originally thought. For example, it was explained when Novomatic distributed donations and to whom they were allowed to go. In summary, it turned out that Novomatic imposed stricter rules on itself than some countries.
Surveys were carried out at the request of the ÖVP
The current invited persons took the witness stand at the request of the ÖVP. The U-Committee hoped that these people would clarify the donation situation. All of this was based on the world-famous saying that Novomatic would pay everyone. For this reason, theCompliance Manager Thomas Veverka from Novomatic was also interviewed. He clearly stated thatdonations flow only to organizations in which no politically exposed persons hold an executive function. If, exceptionally, donations are made to these organizations, they must be approved by the Novomatic board of directors.
Such a permit would be extremely rare. In addition, no donations at all would have been permitted between 2016 and mid-2017. The compliance manager went on to say that the department always carried out its task with the utmost care. As an example he mentioned theincident with the Liberal Institute for Security Policy. At that time, Markus Tschank worked as an organ administrator and at the same time with the FPÖ. However, the compliance department would have done their job responsibly and pointed this out to the Novomatic board of directors. In this way, all safety regulations would always have been complied with.
Apart from this case, the donations to the Alois Mock Institute and the Waidhofen an der Ybbs Chamber Orchestra were involved. Donations of around 100,000 euros are said to have flowed to the Alois Mock Institute, although theChairman of the Board is also President of the National Council and U-Committee Chairman. We are talking about Wolfgang Sobotka, who, as a member of the ÖVP, is also the conductor of the Waidhofen Chamber Orchestra.
Sponsoring is not a donation
As the surveys progressed, it became clear that donations are not the same as sponsoring. A donation is made without consideration. This is seen as the biggest and most important difference between the two payments. WithSponsoring, the payer always receives something in return, for example advertising in the form of logos printed on athletes' jerseys. This difference is also used to justify that Novomatic does not pay everyone. Although, strictly speaking, the momentous saying says that Novomatic received something in return: It was about politicians receiving money to change the laws in favor of Novomatics.
Of course, Novomatic sometimes made donations. The company doesn't deny that at all. However, the defense is that, for example,animal protection organizations or SOS children's homes received donations. These organizations have never asked for anything in return. In addition, donations may never be made at the time of an election. This clear and very strict company regulation makes it clear that stricter rules apply at Novomatic than is the case in some countries.
Additional witness: Katzian
Wolfgang Katzian was summoned as an additional witness. This is the union chief, who used to have relatively close communications with the current Öbag boss Thomas Schmid. However, the content of the communication was politically neutral, as Katzian discussed the consequences of the reform regarding the state holding company with Schmid. It is alleged that Katzian spoke to Schmid. According to Katzian, however, it wasn't about Novomatic at the time. He would only have performed his duties as a trade unionist. Even then it was public knowledge that Thomas Schmid would become the new boss of Öbag. In addition, the talks only concerned employee representatives, since Öbag was to be converted into a stock corporation.
By the way, Öbag is a company that managesthe state's holdings in listed companies. It was for this reason that the talks between Katzian and Schmid became interesting for the Ibiza Committee. During his testimony, Katzian emphasized that the talks were only to reassure the employees of the companies concerned. They were afraid because at the time privatization was being discussed.
Katzian is said not to have spoken to FPÖ representatives. It would have been known at the time that Schmid would be the new head of Öbib and that only ex-financier Hartmut Löger would be involved.
Conclusion: no new results determined
In the end, the Ibiza Committee did not get any further with the new surveys. It was only made clear thatNovomatic has developed very strict regulations in order to avoid any political connection with donations and sponsoring. Donations were strictly prohibited until mid-2017. Only at the urging of a Novomatic subsidiary was this regulation changed and donations were suddenly allowed.
Further surveys went completely in vain. Aex-politician of the liberal forum more or less rejected the testimony by ridiculing the well-known Ibiza video. Thus, witness interviews passed again, which did not lead to any new knowledge. It is too early to say what the outcome of the committee will be. Furthermore, it is not yet certain when a result will be published.