Chief Correspondent, Vienna, Vienna
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Apr 12, 2013

Austrians’ love of bank secrecy has deep roots

VIENNA, April 12 (Reuters) – Call it the battle for
grandma’s passbook.

That is how politicians here are framing a debate over
whether Austria should roll back banking secrecy and share
information on depositors with European partners and the United
States. Luxembourg’s decision this week to open its books has
fixed attention on Austria, the last EU holdout.

Apr 10, 2013

Raiffeisen bets on recovery in emerging Europe

VIENNA, April 10 (Reuters) – Raiffeisen Bank International
(RBI) plans to expand further in central and eastern
Europe and is optimistic the region’s fragile economic situation
will improve in the second half of this year.

Raiffeisen and rivals Bank Austria and Erste Group
are already the biggest banks in so-called emerging
Europe and want to invest more in the region because of more
dynamic growth prospects than the mature markets of western

Apr 9, 2013

Austria joins Luxembourg for EU bank secrecy talks

VIENNA/LONDON, April 9 (Reuters) – Austria will join
Luxembourg for talks with the European Union on how to crack
down on cross-border tax cheats, Chancellor Werner Faymann said
on Tuesday, signalling an easing of Vienna’s hardline stance on
coveted bank secrecy.

Faymann, a Social Democrat, stressed that Austrians’
domestic bank accounts would remain shielded from the taxman’s
prying eye, but foreigners’ wealth in local banks could face
unprecedented scrutiny if the talks with Brussels go well.

Mar 27, 2013

Salzburg may seek to annul bank trades in investment scandal

VIENNA, March 27 (Reuters) – Austria’s Salzburg province
will try to claw back money from banks by questioning if they
improperly sold a large number of complex financial products to
a bureaucrat unauthorised to do such deals.

Salzburg sacked budget chief Monika Rathgeber last year and
accused her of covertly borrowing 1.8 billion euros ($2.3
billion) over a decade to run a shadow financial portfolio of
highly speculative investments and exotic currency trades.

Mar 25, 2013

Cyprus crisis puts Austrian bank secrecy on agenda

VIENNA (Reuters) – Cyprus’s financial crisis has put Austria’s centuries-old tradition of banking secrecy under fresh scrutiny, posing a potential political problem for Vienna as it faces European Union and U.S. pressure to crack down on tax cheats.

Austria and Luxembourg are the only countries that do not share with other EU members the identities of EU residents with cross-border bank accounts. Instead Austria taxes interest income at source and returns the money to other EU states.

Mar 12, 2013

Hypo Alpe Adria pleads for time to revamp

VIENNA, March 12 (Reuters) – Nationalised Austrian lender
Hypo Alpe Adria pleaded on Tuesday for enough time to
divest assets at fair prices in a revamp that the European
Union’s competition chief has criticised for dragging on.

At stake are billions of euros in aid for the country’s
seventh-biggest bank, which is trying to shrink back to health
after a disastrous decade of unbridled growth and expansion into
the Balkans that pushed it to the brink of insolvency.

Mar 3, 2013

Asylum activists end protest in Vienna church

VIENNA (Reuters) – Dozens of refugees demanding changes to Austria’s asylum system ended a weeks-long occupation of a Vienna church on Sunday, defusing a standoff with authorities.

The activists took up an offer from Roman Catholic Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn – now in Rome for a conclave to elect a new Pope – and moved to a nearby abbey, the Catholic social charity Caritas said.

Feb 28, 2013

Erste Group wins capital row, set for growth

VIENNA, Feb 28 (Reuters) – Erste Group Bank has
won a regulatory battle that secures it 1.6 billion euros ($2.1
billion) in core capital, giving it resources to take advantage
of the fragile recovery in emerging European markets.

Erste, which vies with Raiffeisen Bank International
as central and eastern Europe’s second-biggest lender
after UniCredit, aimed for flat operating results in
2013 by using cost cuts to compensate for modest loan demand.

Feb 18, 2013

Russia asks: How do you stop space objects hitting Earth?

MOSCOW/VIENNA (Reuters) – What can man do to prevent Earth being hit by meteorites and asteroids?

Russia has found, to its cost, that it has no answers. But U.S. and European experts may be able to help with a few ideas that at first glance seem straight out of science fiction, including smashing spacecraft into asteroids, using the sun’s rays to vaporize them, or blasting them with nuclear bombs.

Feb 13, 2013

Leading dissident priest slams covert pope selection process

VIENNA (Reuters) – A leading dissident Austrian priest whose call to disobey some Roman Catholic teachings drew a rebuke from Pope Benedict last year urged Church leaders to throw off their secrecy and canvas churchgoers on who should lead them next.

Rev. Helmut Schueller, head of a group of priests who openly challenge Church positions on taboo topics such as priestly celibacy and ordaining women, said selecting a successor to Benedict was a chance to embrace public debate.

    • About Michael

      "Mike has worked for Reuters for two decades and reported from more than a dozen countries on business and general news. His beats have included covering the European automotive industry, business news from Switzerland, German defense and security policy, and Hungary's transition to a market democracy after the collapse of communism in eastern Europe"
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