Austrian Landesbank CEO resigns over Panama Papers

Michael Grahammer (pictured), CEO of Austrian lender Hypo Vorarlberg, has announced his immediate resignation, in the aftermath of the Panama Papers leak.

Grahammer is the first CEO of a European bank to resign after his name appeared in documents of Panamanian lawfirm Mossak Fonseca.

In a statement released yesterday, Grahammer denies any wrongdoing and stresses that he resigned due to “preconceptions in the media” against him personally. “I am 100 percent convinced that the bank has at no point violated any laws or sanctions” he claims.

Hypo Vorarlberg, the tenth biggest bank in Austria, has attracted the attention of Austrian Regulator Finanzmarktaufsicht (FMA) since 2012, due to a business deal involving a Virgin Islands-based company owned by Russian oligarch Gennadi Timtschenko, who appeared on US sanctions lists. The investigation against Hypo Vorarlberg was closed in 2013 due to lack of evidence.

Moreover, Austrian prosecutors also investigated the bank due to alleged dealings with Ukrainian businessmen Serhiy and Andriy Klyuyev, who are closely associated to former Ukrainian president Janukowitsch and also appear on international sanctions lists.

Hypo Vorarlberg is alleged to have assisted the sale of a solar power plant and has been accused by Austrian prosecutors of money laundering. Again, the case was closed at the beginning of 2016 due to lack of evidence.

The Panama Papers revealed that at least 20 offshore companies, including that of Gennadi Timtschenko, have held accounts with the Austrian lender, thereby shedding new evidence on the allegations.

Since Grahammer’s resignation, Bert Meerstadt, member of the supervisory board at Dutch lender ABN Amro has also resigned, as reported by InvestmentEurope.

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