Financial Regulatory Forum

Austria launches “CSI Hypo” to probe failed bank

VIENNA, Feb 19 (Reuters) – Austria’s finance ministry has set up a 100-strong group of investigators to find out what led to the near collapse of Austria’s No.6 bank Hypo Group Alpe Adria before it was nationalised last year, it said on Friday.

The team will consist of legal and banking experts from Austria’s central bank, finance ministry, attorney general, audit court and from Hypo itself, Finance Minister Josef Proell told Austrian state radio ORF in an interview.

“What they’ll find I don’t know,” Proell said. “But that not everything went well there is pretty obvious … We will turn every single receipt, and if we find anything, we’ll prosecute.”

The group, which Proell dubbed “CSI Hypo” alluding to the popular television series about U.S. crime scene investigators, will work alongside Austrian state prosecutors and a special police unit already investigating the bank’s collapse.

Authorities in Germany and Croatia are also already looking into some of Hypo’s business and into the deal in which German state bank BayernLB [BAYLB.UL] acquired a majority stake in Hypo in 2007.

Austria nationalises Hypo to avoid bank’s collapse

By Christian Gutlederer and Peter Maushagen

VIENNA/MUNICH, Dec 14 (Reuters) – Austria nationalised Hypo Group Alpe Adria on Monday to avoid a collapse that could have undermined trust in banks in eastern Europe and cast doubt over Austria’s and Germany’s backing of state-owned lenders.

Austria is taking full control of the ailing bank after a high-stakes gamble over the weekend that soured German-Austrian relations and required interventions by the presidents of the European Central Bank and the Bundesbank to be resolved.

German state bank BayernLB, Austrian insurer Grawe and the Austrian region of Carinthia are to give away their stakes for a nominal amount, while injecting around 1 billion euros ($1.5 billion) of capital, Finance Minister Josef Proell said.