The former Tyrolean ÖVP-EU-Abg. Richard Seeber was not legally acquitted of the charge of serious fraud at the Innsbruck regional court on Monday. He was accused of having made bogus invoices from an external consultant and his daughter in the amount of around 400,000 between 2006 and 2010. Judge Andreas Mair stated in his judgment: “It is not an acquittal without doubt”, but one that “leaves a lot open”.
But the defendants do not have to “prove themselves freely”, reminded the chairman of the lay judges’ senate. There are many processes that are “worth questioning”. For the court it was not sufficient evidence that some of the invoices submitted were identical. In addition, the Senate stated that there was a “breakdown in the employment relationship” between the employees who reported Seeber. The 59-year-old Seeber explained why he needed a consultant and why he could not rely on his assistants.
The second accused adviser, a 65-year-old Romanian and an acquaintance of Seebers since the 1980s, was also acquitted in case of doubt. During his interrogation, he could still remember individual reports that he had prepared. “One did not get the impression that he was confronted with something that he had never heard of,” said the judge. The assistants’ suspicions spoke against Seeber that something was going wrong. At the end of the verdict, Mair summed up: “A somewhat stale aftertaste, which, however, cannot be to the detriment of the accused”. The public prosecutor and the representatives of the private parties made no statement.
Numerous witnesses questioned
Numerous witnesses were heard during the trial, which took place three days from the end of September. In addition to Seeber’s wife, a few assistants had their say, some of whom burdened the suspended head of the Tyrol office in Brussels. Two of them said in court that they had reported Seeber to the EU fraud authority on suspicion of fraud. Most of the employees stated that they had never seen the consultant and had not seen any reports or expert opinions.
Seeber’s wife, on the other hand, exonerated the former parliamentarian, who sat in the EU Parliament from 2004 to 2014. In their common home in Brussels, she had seen the 65-year-old’s reports because Seeber had this expertise sent to her home and not to the office. She also reported regular phone calls between the two of them. In addition, a friend of the Romanian testified at the negotiation that he had often heard that he was working for an MEP. (apa)