Short trial: Russian witness loses faith in Schmidt

Importantly, the question was raised at the request of Russian security. Valerie A. The former ÖBAG board member had a “job interview” with Schmidt in Amsterdam the previous year, he said. Schmidt allegedly told himself and another businessman – this is what the witness says – that the Economic and Corruption State Prosecutor's Office (WKStA) pressured him during his investigation.

When asked by Judge Michael Radasztics, A. He described the process – in German and English: They are looking for a CEO for a project in Georgia. That's when they found Schmidt – a meeting was arranged in Amsterdam because, as he now testifies, he also had “other jobs” there. No details about the project are allowed, except that it is a major oil production project. Only witness A. can be interviewed; The second witness refused because he was “unwell”.

“Best Experiences”

Isn't it a problem that Schmidt doesn't speak Russian and has nothing to do with oil? According to the witness, language skills are not that important, although Schmidt is fluent in English, which is sufficient. According to the Russian witness, Schmidt's CV, which he received from an internationally active friend, showed he had “excellent experience” for the job. Schmidt is a high-level manager with many contacts and a “good negotiator”.

The job interview was conducted in English, on the first meeting he met Schmidt alone, on the second day he met Schmidt with a partner. The judge wanted to know why Schmidt's trial at WKStA was a topic of conversation. They did some research on the Internet, but they ran into “problems” with court proceedings. That is why he asked Schmidt about it,” said witness A.

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“too much pressure”

Schmidt said he was part of the circle around former President Kurz. He reported that he was “very disappointed” in his friends and that he was blamed for “everything”. That's why he decided to work with the WKStA, the Russian witness applicant quoted Schmidt as saying — “the pressure from the state prosecutor's office” was “too big,” Schmidt said. He had the impression that Schmidt was willing to tell investigators, “That's not true.”

ORF/Lukas Krummholz

Sebastian Kurz and his former cabinet chief Bernhard Bonelli with lawyers in the courtroom

Witness: Rejection by text after four days

In business, such developments can become a problem, the witness said — which is why it became clear that Schmidt could no longer be considered for the job. Four days later, Schmidt canceled via text message. The Russian witness also stated that it had previously been discussed in English (“Kronen Zeitung”). Eva Dichand is a “very beautiful woman, but not a good person, dangerous”.

Witness A said that he had no intention of testifying in court. But then he was “contacted by prosecutors through a contact person” and before that he told them about Schmidt's case. The witness could not say how this was “somehow” obtained by the prosecutors. Since he was in Tbilisi on business, he made the statement there — a statement that eventually ended up with Kurz's lawyer, Otto Dietrich.

WKStA does not believe the statements of the witness

WKStA apparently does not believe the information. Can the witness present the requested research results on Schmidt? These may have been recorded in writing, but they lost interest anyway from the interview, so he couldn't say anything more about it. Why was Schmidt invited as a candidate for the CEO position despite being widely reported in the media?

State Prosecutor Gregor Adamovic and State Prosecutor Roland Koch

ORF/Lukas Krummholz

Senior State Prosecutors Roland Koch and Gregor Adamovic

He did not know that Schmidt had confessed, and they were not even aware of the charges, witness A. But why talking bad about (suspect) partners was the motivation for this decision, the witness replied: “Trust” is the most important thing in business. A CEO has yet to be found, the witness said.

He then contacted Kurz's lawyer, Dietrich – who could produce no letter; The matter was resolved over the phone. As a Russian citizen, how could he have such easy access to the European embassy? The idea came from Dietrich, who, according to the witness, did it “for humanitarian reasons.” He then forwarded Schmidt's rejection email to Dietrich.

Schmidt is interrogated again

The judge ruled that the witness who did not appear for the trial should be appointed on February 23. The WKStA requested that Schmidt be called back, specifically to initiate a “job interview”, which was not yet an issue with his trial dates. Following this, Judge Schmidt will be cross-examined on February 23 via zoom, as will the Russian witness.

Witness Helm: “No names were brought up”

In the morning, witness and former ÖBAG supervisory board member Gunther Helm was questioned about the personnel selection – a manager now working in Saudi Arabia who sat on the nomination committee when ÖBAG was created. The organization was created when the state holding company was converted from the old ÖIAG to ÖBIB.

Helm said he was responsible for “screening” the supervisory board members. “Names are always floating around,” Helm said. The actual recommendations came from the Finance Ministry. According to Helm, he did not “add” names to the lists. He joined the ÖBAG supervisory board at the request of Finance Minister Hardvik Löger (ÖVP) in mid-2019 – there were talks with Schmidt about this in December 2018.

“No Whisperers”

He was unaware of any of Schmidt's calls to order (“not there, not there”). He was personally acquainted with Siegfried Wolff, and Helm was granted a chat with him, in which Helm declared that he represented the interests discussed. Helm said it represents the interests of the economy, which he must represent in his role.

Gunther Helm at the Vienna Criminal Regional Court

ORF/Lukas Krummholz

The witness Gunther Helm was questioned in the morning – he was shown chatting with Siegfried Wolff.

Helm also wrote of Wolff's chairman of the supervisory board who “doesn't want to get his way.” And then: after all, everything went “as planned” in this case (“You are the leader, I'm the member”). Helm was unable to answer the judge's questions about what the “plan” was discussed, and the chat was years ago.

That's it: Helm says there is no “plan.” Helm says it's “not aimed at gossipers” — “my time is too valuable for that.” He had no indication that Kurz “wanted anything” — which was also the case with then-Finance Minister Gernaud Blumel, a longtime friend and loger. He didn't even know former cabinet chief Bernhard Bonelli.

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