Austrian minister's husband goes to ground
Allegations surrounding arms contract bring resignations from governmen t. Steve Crawshaw in Vienna reports `We have said all that needs to be said. That is policy now'
Friday 27 January 1995
Peter Marizzi, one of the most important figures in the Social Democratic Party, was given "indefinite leave". Twenty-four hours earlier, the other politician recorded on the "bribes" tape, Hermann Kraft, the People's Party defence spokesman, resigned.
Chancellor Franz Vranitzky, the Socialist Party leader, yesterday offered Mr Marizzi only lukewarm support, saying "conversations will take place".
Meanwhile, pressure looks set to grow on the environment minister Maria Rauch-Kallat, whose husband Count Alfons Mensdorff, is named in the transcript as the alleged contact with BAe.
The count is described by Mr. Kraft in the recording as "a representative or consultant" to British Aerospace.
In a statement, Count Mensdorff denied having had contacts with Mr Kraft. He said he was in any case not in a position to offer special deals, because he is "only an adviser" to BAe.
Yesterday, all calls to the count were referred to his lawyer, Thomas Mondl, who in turn was unwilling to be drawn. In an interview on Austrian radio, Mr Mondl said that his client "has a contract" with BAe and is "a kind of representative".
"In case of doubt", the lawyer added, this could be considered a paid contract.
Mr Mondl told the Independent that, apart from the brief radio interview, he could not answer any questions because that would be "in conflict of interest with my client". He said: "We have said everything that needs to be said. This is policy at the moment".
Count Mensdorff runs a consulting agency known as MPA - which according to the Austrian magazine News, has BAe as one of its clients.
Like hundreds of other "advisers" to manufacturers of high technology equipment, the count's value to BAe - if he has any - will be in his ability to use contacts to secure deals.
Generally, the middleman receives anything from 1-10 per cent in commissions. He has several functions: bringing buyers and sellers together; using his local knowledge and contacts; and arranging specialised training, services and aftercare once the goods are delivered; There was speculation last night that Mr Marizzi, who said he was interested in doing a "Sherlock Holmes", may himself have recorded the conversation. One of Austria's daily newspapers said he "fell into his own trap".
Count Mensdorff, 40, married Ms. Rauch-Kallat last April last year - just two months after the eavesdropped conversation.
The couple's weekend home, is a large manor house in Count Mensdorff's native Burgenland, south of Vienna. The house, which is said to be undergoing extensive renovation, has 200 hectares of land which is used for commercial forestry.
Count Mensdorff is said to have an an income of 2.5m schillings a year (£156,000) from forestry and shooting on the estate. His previous ventures include turkey farming and producing boar pate, both of which failed.
News noted that the Austrian government had wanted to buy a BAe-146 aircraft five years ago, but that the Asch400m deal did not come to fruition because of an emerging scandal involving the payment of commission.
- 4 #JeSuisEd: People share photos of themselves eating awkwardly in solidarity with Labour leader
- 5 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Who should I vote for in the general election? Take The Independent's interactive quiz to find out which party is the right choice for you
General election: Conservatives mocked online over Boris Johnson's claim of SNP 'jockalypse'
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...
£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...