Austrian count arrested for Saab Gripen bribes

An Austrian count has been arrested on suspicion of attempting to bribe politicians to buy Swedish firm Saab's Gripen aircraft.

Austrian count arrested for Saab Gripen bribes

Count Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly is alleged to have received 13 million euro ($16.5 million) from Saab’s British partner BAE in payment.

Mensdorff-Pouilly is an agent for UK defence firm BAE Systems, a partner of the Swedish firm Saab.

British prosecutors suspect that he bribed Hungarian and Czech decision-makers to encourage them to choose the Gripen fighter aircraft for their respective country’s air force.

He is also suspected of similar offences in connection with Austria’s purchase of the Eurofighter, a direct competitor to the Saab Gripen.

The count was arrested on Friday in Austria and is being detained in Vienna. He is not expected to be granted bail due to the risk of him fleeing from justice and destroying evidence.

Mensdorff-Pouilly is married to the former Austrian health minister Maria Rauch-Kallat.

The news agency APA, which cites reports from news magazine Profil, reveals that the count is thought to have received 13 million euro ($16.5 million).

APA reports that that count is also suspected of forging documents in order to make the payments appear legitimate.

Mensdorff-Pouilly legal counsel confirmed that the count paid sums of money to the Czech Republic, but only to business people – not to politicians.

Swedish prosecutor Christer van der Kwast is investigating bribery in connection with the export of the Gripen aircraft.


Barçagate: Police raid FC Barcelona offices and arrest former president

Police raided the offices of FC Barcelona on Monday, carrying out several arrests just six days ahead of the club's presidential elections, a Catalan regional police spokesman told AFP.

Barçagate: Police raid FC Barcelona offices and arrest former president
Barcelona's former president Josep Maria Bartomeu is among the arrested. Photo: Josep Lago/AFP

Spain's Cadena Ser radio said one of those arrested was former club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who resigned in October, along with CEO Oscar Grau and the club's head of legal services.

But the police refused to confirm names, saying only “arrests are taking place” and adding that the operation was being run by officers from the financial crimes unit.

“We are in the process of carrying out an operation right now with agents of the financial crimes unit,” the police spokesman told AFP.

According to reports in the Spanish media, the operation is linked to last year's investigation into the 'BarçaGate' scandal, which saw the club deny hiring a company to criticise current and former players on social media to improve the image of the then-president Bartomeu.

Cadena Ser said Barca paid €1 million in six separate invoices to the company I3 Ventures, with whom the club have since cut ties.

Bartomeu resigned in October, after mounting pressure following months of controversy and a dramatic decline in performances on the pitch.

His successor is due to be elected on Sunday, when club members will choose between the final three candidates, Joan Laporta, Toni Freixa and Victor Font.