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Nowotny Didn’t Know of Austrian Money Printer Bribe Payments

Dec. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Austrian Central Bank Governor Ewald Nowotny says he didn’t know the central bank’s money printing unit paid bribes.

“I knew nothing about bribes being paid,” Nowotny told reporters in Vienna today, speaking ahead of a meeting of the parliamentary finance committee on a criminal investigation at the central bank’s Oesterreichische Banknoten-und Sicherheitsdruck GmbH.

The central bank said on Nov. 28 that the Vienna prosecutor is probing the supervisory board at the unit in connection with its probe into the alleged payment of bribes. The supervisory board is headed by Austrian central bank deputy governor Wolfgang Duchatczek and also includes governor Nowotny and fellow board member Peter Zoellner, according to the company register.

The supervisory board, which said at the time that it is “interested in a complete cleanup of the matter and will fully cooperate with the investigation,” denied that it had been informed of the bribes.

Austrian authorities are investigating the former management of the money printer on suspicion that the company paid bribes to officials in countries including Syria and Azerbaijan to get new business and that executives received kickbacks. The ex-managers have denied any wrongdoing.

Nowotny told lawmakers today that the money printer’s activities in future should be limited to countries in the European Economic Area, according to a statement from parliament.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Zoe Schneeweiss at zschneeweiss@bloomberg.net

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