Austrian Billionaire Silently Donated Roughly 1 Million to Conservative Party

Art collector and Billionaire Heidi Horten has been sending large amounts of cash to the ÖVP every month while evading Austrian Court of Audit.

On Tuesday, Aug 22, the center-right ÖVP disclosed party funding they have received in 2018 and 2019 through private donations — shortly after they discovered that Der Standard was already actively investigating a leaked list. Believed to come directly through ÖVP channels, insiders suspect that the party decided to publicize the information before the media could.

Just under the limit

Most of the names had already been list on a 2017 record, with one notable omission. The billionaire Heidi Goëss-Horten, who according to Forbes magazine is the 4th richest Austrian citizen with a net worth of €3.1 billion, has donated a total of €931,000 to the ÖVP over the course of two years. What made the donations remarkable was the way she had made them, in segments of €49,000 per month, just under €50,000 threshold at which the donation must be reported to the Court of Audit. As of June 2019, this threshold has been lowered to €2,500. On a federal level, the law (Section 6, paragraph 1 of the Political Parties Act 2012) states that political parties in Austria are generally allowed to receive donations from any outside members without any specified limit. This law has now been changed, limiting party funding to €750,000.

“It has allowed parties to stay unchecked with their funding”

The ÖVP was vehemently against the introduction of a limit; they have led in party donations, with over €3 million received in 2017 alone. However, paragraph 2 of this law also demands that if a political party has received donations from outside members then these must be filed in an addendum to the annual statement of accounts, which must then be submitted by the political party to the Court of Audit for review. The information in these documents only gets disclosed years later, unless it crosses the monthly €2,500 threshold. As soon as this has been crossed, the political party needs to immediately inform the Court of Audit in a separate form with a full list of information about the origin of the donation, so that they can publish this information on their public website.

In the case of Heidi Horten, she knowingly kept funding just under this limit to avoid public scrutiny. Although suspicious, the action is not illegal. The Court of Audit is not allowed to review party finances, which many experts have heavily criticized because it means parties and their funding remain unchecked. With the old limit of €50,000 considered high, parties have managed to receive amounts of money without having to notify the Austrian Court of Audit. Heidi Horton has yet to make a statement.

 

 

 

Emre Günes
Emre Günes is Viennese born and raised with Turkish roots. After finishing his international school he got a knack for writing in English and studied Journalism at the University of Westminster in London. He previously interned at a couple of import/export companies as a teen and then even at the Radio Station of the Austrian National Broadcaster (ORF) until completing his military service in 2018. He is now an intern and writes for Metropole while studying his masters for English Linguistics.

Help us help you

“Strong media and independent journalism are built on the shoulders of subscribers. Your support means the world to us.

Benjamin Wolf
COO & Managing Editor

The coronavirus outbreak affects and challenges your life in big and small ways. Metropole is here for you and we are proud to be your news source during this crisis.

But just as the coronavirus has increased the need for independent journalism, it has also undercut a major revenue source of media companies, ours included – advertising.

We need your support to keep it up – donate or subscribe and #helpushelpyou!

Support Metropole!


 

RECENT Articles

Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna | Virologist Warns Country Is “Losing Contr...

The coronavirus has arrived in Austria. Here’s all you need to know about current measures, including where to get help, information and tips – updated regularly.

New COVID-19 Measures – What Will Change

The federal government has once again tightened rules for restaurants and events. Here’s what it means for Vienna.

Enforcement of Mask Rules by U-Bahn Security Triggers Accusations of Racism

A routine intervention by Wiener Linien staff escalated into alleged use of excessive force; feelings run high while body-cam evidence may prove critical.

How Coronavirus Is Affecting Austria’s Neighbors

Here’s how European countries are managing the second wave of COVID-19 – including statistics, measures and an analysis of the current situation.

Metropole’s 10 Films to Watch At the Viennale 2020

Austria’s premier film festival enters the pandemic age with extra screens and a great selection of world cinema.

Hold the Line

With cases skyrocketing again in Europe, it is time to remember the advice a public health expert gave us in April: The virus is unforgiving to unwise choices.
 

METROPOLE NEWSLETTER

Join over 5,000 Metropolitans, who already get monthly news updates and event invitations.

X
X
X