Five Cleared In Fraud Inquiry

Vienna fraud squad officers investigating the business activities of some of Austria’s best-known promoters have decided that a couple of them have no case to answer.

The state prosecutor’s office has confirmed that police are no longer investigating Wiesen Festivals chief Franz Bogner and Susanne Froestl, wife and business partner of MC Events & Musicpromotion chief Peter Froestl.

The fraud squad investigation, which seems to have gone back to the collapse of the Austrian Promoters’ Group (APG) in June 2002, focused on 10 people working in or connected to the live music business.

CTS Eventim’s Österreich Ticket chief exec Andi Egger, who was once an APG exec, Austrian actor and film director Paulus Manker and Peter Froestl (another APG exec) have also been given the all-clear by the fraud squad. However, the latter is still under scrutiny for allegedly not paying his staff’s social security contributions.

Those still under investigation include Heimo Hanserl, the owner of the two Rock & More companies that went bankrupt; former Rock & More 1 chief exec Manfred Trojer, who bought the company from Hanserl a few weeks before it went under; Rock & More 2 managing director Chris Dorrer; R&M 1 and 2 consultant Wolfgang Klinger and Show Connection head Manfred Leodolter.

Gerhard Jarosch – a magistrate in the state prosecutor’s office – won’t give more details of the year-long investigation or say how much longer it’s likely to last.
The fraud squad began investigating the disappearance of about euro 2 million from APG’s accounts soon after the company went down. Klinger, Egger, Bogner, Leodalter and Peter Froestl were all part of APG.

A new inquiry was launched in December 2007 as a result of an anonymous tip-off, apparently relating to Klinger and his relationship with the two Rock & Mores.
Dr. Susi Pariasek of Vienna-based Pariasek Holper, the official receiver handling the bankruptcy of Rock & More 1, said she considered pursuing criminal charges against Hanserl and Klinger but “there wouldn’t have been any financial advantage to the company’s creditors.”

She said Klinger disassociated himself from R&M’s corporate problems by claiming to be a consultant, although evidence points to him having considerable executive authority.

Klinger and Dorrer have both denied any wrongdoing. It hasn’t been possible to get comment from Hanserl or Trojer.

On leaving Rock & More 2 in January 2008, three weeks before its new Dutch owners called in the receivers, Dorrer and Klinger intended to continue in business together. Their plans included working with New York-based Schuhmertl Markets, an IT solutions and advisory firm with an office in Vienna.

Klinger said they would also be teaming with CTS Eventim to promote live shows in Russia, and act as production consultants for a new arena to be built “somewhere in The Balkans in 2009.” Neither Klinger nor Dorrer gave any more detail about the venue.

Klinger has told Pollstar that having the investigation hanging over him has made it extremely difficult to work and he hasn’t been able to promote major shows since it began.

Dorrer looks to have abandoned the plan to continue working with Klinger and has moved on to a new job with Lasse Olsson’s Stockholm-based Viva Art Music.