Grasser had three goals when it came to the corporate structure: suitable retirement provision “for himself and his family”, shielding against potential risks from his commitment and discretion towards the public. The advisor then presented the ex-politician with various ideas.
A construction with a foundation in Liechtenstein both seemed viable because it “was not subject to the Austrian commercial register public”. According to the newspaper report, the prosecutors write that commissions from a sales service were not yet discussed in these first discussions. At first it was only about consultant fees and dividend income.
The consultant then explained the various legal aspects to Grasser. When Grasser called him his “concern not wanting to have any problems with the tax authorities”, H. should have two options: firstly, the taxation of all income from Meinl’s commitment in Austria and secondly, the proposed structure – with simultaneous disclosure to the Financial. Grasser rejected both.
He then commissioned the consultant with the complex foundation and company construction. Grasser’s actual tax advisor was left out in all of this: It was agreed not to disclose the foundation structure to him “despite its relevance to income tax,” Grasser is said to have testified according to the indictment. He and his “special adviser” had also agreed to hold meetings only in private. Written communication was to be avoided and every exchange “predominantly oral” was to be maintained.
From May 2007, “the structure” was implemented – which, thanks to an idea from the consultant, was then to become a “Cypriot two-tier structure”, one into which Cypriot companies were also incorporated. The reason for this: Grasser wanted to use the money from his Meinl commitment to buy real estate in Austria, i.e. “Der Standard”.
When the ex-finance minister then also wanted to process the sales commissions via the foundation structure – which were only negotiated later – the advisor claims to have warned him against this because of personal accountability. The WKStA writes of a “wish by Grasser (after, note) for tax evasion”. The consultant was “torn” in view of this.