Austria: Anti-Money Laundering Charges to Porsche SE Board Member

Siegfried Wolf is one of two indicted ‘entrepreneurs’ in a case involving allegations of ‘hidden assets’ of about €6.8mn. Austrian anti-corruption authorities have charged a supervisory board member of Porsche SE, the holding company of Volkswagen Group, with money laundering in relation to a decades-old fighter jets deal.

Siegfried Wolf is one of two indicted “entrepreneurs”, according to several people familiar with the situation.

The case involves allegations of “hidden assets” amounting to about €6.8mn and funds exchanged into gold and kept in Switzerland, Austria’s state economic crime and corruption prosecutor said in a statement.

A personal spokesperson for the 65-year-old Wolf declined to comment on the charges.

It is not the first time this year that Wolf, who also sits on the supervisory boards of German car suppliers Schaeffler and Vitesco, has faced scrutiny.

News website Der Spiegel reported in April that Wolf had personally written to Vladimir Putin, offering to help him rebuild the Russian car industry using his contacts in Germany.

VW at the time called the letter by the supervisory board member of Porsche SE “irritating” — but Wolf has kept all his positions in the German car industry.

Porsche SE said it had “taken note” of the indictment against Wolf and added that the allegations related to “circumstances” that had nothing to do with his role on the supervisory board of the company “either in terms of content or timing”.

The Porsche-Piech family have a controlling stake in carmaker Volkswagen and a portion of the voting rights in the newly-listed Porsche AG through the Porsche SE holding company.

Under the German system, there are two boards: the executive board that runs the company day-to-day and the supervisory board that oversees the work of the former and advises on strategy.

Car supplier Vitesco, whose supervisory board is chaired by Wolf, said it would not comment on his “private business activities”.

The Schaeffler family, which controls Vitesco as well as the car supplier which bears its name, said that “you’re considered to be innocent until proven guilty”.

Wolf, a native of the province of Styria, has loomed large in Austrian domestic politics for many years.

Lately, he has also become a prominent figure in a sprawling probe by state prosecutors into government corruption under the chancellorship of Sebastian Kurz, who he had a close association with.

He is a prominent backer of the conservative Austrian People’s Party, which Kurz headed until 2021, and for many years served as a board member at ÖBAG, Austria’s state investment fund.


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No charges against Wolf have been made in connection to the government corruption investigation, but investigators have said they are looking into a tax write-off of €630,000 he appears to have been given by Thomas Schmid, a former powerful finance ministry official and confidant of Kurz.

Wolf still sits on the boards of more than a dozen Austrian companies.

He first rose to prominence in the 1990s and 2000s under the tutelage of Canadian-Austrian billionaire Frank Stronach, founder of Magna, the automotive parts business.

Wolf was a key figure in driving Magna’s expansion, and forged close relationships in eastern Europe, and in particular Russia.

In 2010 he became chair of Oleg Deripaska’s Russian Machines, the industrial and engineering conglomerate, and in 2012 became chair of the European arm of Sberbank, the Russian state-backed lender.

Until Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he was on the board of Deripaska’s carmaker Gaz.


June 7, 2023 Published by The Financial Times.

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