Austria’s Grasser Opens Taxes After Cyprus Accounts Revealed

Austria’s ex-finance minister released his tax returns after published documents showed that he used at least six offshore accounts, including three listed in Cyprus, to manage his businesses.

Karl-Heinz Grasser has appealed an order than he pay 5.4 million euros ($6.9 million) in back taxes, a ruling first reported by Profil magazine. A review by Grasser’s accountants at Ernst & Young and a copy of the tax court finding were provided to weekly magazine Falter by his lawyer, Manfred Ainedter, the attorney confirmed today by telephone.

The former Austrian politician, who worked for billionaire Frank Stronach before joining government and married into the Swarovski-crystal family after leaving office, has been the target of multiple investigations. Serving under ex-Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel’s administration, he led Austria’s drive to privatize state companies from 2000 until 2007.

Setting up the foreign accounts was necessary to protect Grasser and his family’s finances from media scrutiny, according to the Ernst & Young assessment. The accounts, which also linked to firms registered in Liechtenstein and the Virgin Islands, was necessary to reduce Grasser’s financial risk and shield him from being sued, the document said.