Ex Austrian Lobbyist Hochegger to Spend 2.5 Years in Jail
The Viennese Regional Criminal Court has sentenced former lobbyist Peter Hochegger to two years and a half of imprisonment.
The verdict was handed late on Friday, according to reports of Sega daily.
The trial involved covert donations given by Telekom Austria to right-wing party Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) during the general election campaign in 2006.
The court ruled that the party had received a total of EUR 960 000 through fake invoices through advertising and PR agencies.
The former PR and lobbying strategist for Telekom Austria was declared guilty of abetting embezzlement and making false statement in testimony to the parliamentary anti-corruption committee.
Up until the last day, Hochegger denied his involvement in the scheme for hidden sponsorship of the party, but the court ruled that he had acted deliberately.
Apart from Hochegger, whose prison term is longest, the court also issued guilty verdicts to a former MP, an advertising executive and the Spokesperson of then- Justice Minister.
All of the verdicts are not final.
The Alliance for the Future of Austria party was sentenced to pay a fine of EUR 960 000, or ¼ of its budget for the upcoming elections scheduled for September 29.
Hochegger made headlines in Bulgaria after it emerged that he had lobbied for Bulgaria's EU accession in exchange for a fee of EUR 1.5 M under two contracts from 2006 and 2008 signed during the term in office of the three-way coalition government headed by Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev.
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Now it is time to investigate thoroughly Stanishev and his PR wife, Monica (Lewinsky) Yanova. What was the outcome of the ad-hoc committee that was set up to look into these matters regarding the "Hochegger Affair"? Was anything concluded at all? Clearly Stanishev and the PR Company owned by his then live-in girlfriend and partner Monica Yanova are implicated and involved in this embezzlement. He was also the PM of BG at that time and he signed off on the payments for the lobbyist and with Yanova handling the "PR". The Austrian Courts have dealt with Hochegger, now the Bulgarian Courts must further investigate closely and follow up the Stanishev/Yanova/Hochegger collusion.