Promoters Expected To Plead Not Guilty

The four Austrian promoters alleged to have run businesses in breach of the country’s bankruptcy laws are all expected to plead not guilty when their cases come before the Vienna criminal court.

Wolfgang Klinger, who faces charges relating to the collapse of Rock & More, says he intends pleading not guilty to all of them and believes the mystery informer who provided the police with information did so in order to get him kicked out of the business.

He says he and his wife put euro 350,000 (US$ 500,000) into Rock & More to try to save the business and he can’t see how a court can regard his actions as fraudulent.

Klinger will be in the Vienna court Sept. 22, along with former Rock & More 2 directors Heimo Hanserl and Chris Dorrer, who are also expected to enter not guilty pleas. The trial is expected to last two days.

An anonymous letter received by the Vienna state prosecutor on Dec. 14 2007 led to police fraud squad officers investigating 10 of the country’s leading entertainment industry figures.

Richard Hoermann, a director of APG’s parent company and now head of Austrian Entertainment, denies he’s the mystery informer who sparked the police probe.

“Everyone involved with a company where white collar crime is suspected is likely to be questioned at the beginning of an investigation,” explained Gerhard Jarosch, a magistrate in the Vienna state prosecutor’s office.

Wiesen festival chief Franz Bogner, MC Events & Musicpromotion directors Peter and Susanne Froestl, and Österreich Ticket chief exec Andi Egger – who were all connected with the Austrian Promoters Group that went bankrupt in 2002 – have all been cleared of wrongdoing.

The Vienna Wirtschaftspolizei (fraud squad) was called in to investigate the disappearance of around euro 2 million from APG’s company accounts. An audit by corporate recovery specialists KPMG confirmed that amount as being missing.

Around the same time parent company Libro Ag, which owned Libro Entertainment, a record company, magazines and 265 record and CD retail outlets in Austria, went down with debts of euro 436 million, then the third largest bankruptcy in the country’s commercial history.

The fraud squad investigation also cleared Manfred Trojer, who took over Rock & More Veranstaltungs (or Rock & More 1) in August 2006, changed the company name to MT Veranstaltungs and barely 10 weeks later filed for insolvency with estimated debts of euro 2 million.

Well-known actor and film director Paulus Manker, often labeled the “enfant terrible” of Austrian cinema, was also given the all-clear. The state prosecutor’s office won’t reveal his connection with the music industry figures.

Still awaiting a trial date is Manfred Leodalter, a former APG director and now head of Show Connection, who says he expects to be able to give the court a full and satisfactory explanation of his role in the collapse of APG.