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Austrian banker loses US extradition battle over slush money fund


A court has ruled the former chief executive of an Austrian bank wanted by American authorities on money laundering charges and who claimed he was “lured” to fly his private jet to London leading to his arrest, can be extradited to the USA.

The London court gave the green light for the extradition on charges of bribery and money laundering involving Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction company.

Peter Weinzierl is the former chief executive of Meinl Bank - which later renamed itself Anglo Austrian AAB Bank - and is accused of helping launder hundreds of millions of dollars to pay officials through a slush fund.

The 57-year-old Austrian national insisted he should not be extradited for reasons that included his claim to have been "lured" to Britain in May 2021 by an alleged U.S. law enforcement agent.

However, Judge Paul Goldspring rejected Weinzierl's arguments and made it clear in a written ruling that the Austrian had not been lured to Britain.

David Pack, Weinzierl's lawyer, is preparing an appeal and described the ruling as "just another example of the UK courts buckling to the U.S. authorities abusing this country's extradition laws".

Weinzierl faces charges in New York for his alleged role in a massive fraud and bribery scheme involving Odebrecht, which changed its name in 2020 to Novonor SA, after it became synonymous with graft due to its role in Brazil’s Operation Car Wash investigation.

Originally an investigation into money laundering, it revealed wide spread corruption and bribery in return for awarding lucrative contracts. Odebrecht has admitted it paid bribes to governments across Latin America.

In any legal dispute, there can be different views from opposing sides, including extradition matters, particularly where individuals may feel they will get an unfair hearing if relocated to a different jurisdiction. Company executives, officers and directors can source funding for the expensive and specialist legal defence, via broad form Directors & Officers Liability Insurance policies.

Not all D&O policies are the same and some do not insure this, but the wider policies do offer Asset and Liberty extensions which provide coverage to individual directors and officers to cover the costs of legal defence from prosecution relating to extradition proceedings or related appeals as well as any judicial review applications challenging the designation of any territory for the purpose of any extradition law.

A tailored D&O policy can be also used to fund the challenge of an appeal of any extradition decision by the responsible Government authority as well as applications to the European Court of Human Rights or similar court in other jurisdictions.

W Denis Europe is a specialist insurance broker, procuring comprehensive insurance for businesses large and small throughout the EU. For more details Contact Vida Jarašiūnaitė or Mark Dutton

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