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Austria investigates Haider links
Diary alleges money transfers from Libyan and Iraqi leaders to late far-right politician.
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2010 16:11 GMT
 Haider visited Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi leader, on the eve of the 2003 Iraq war [AFP]

Austrian authorities are examining a diary that reportedly details alleged money transfers from former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, to a now-deceased far-right politician. 

Joerg Haider, who died in a car crash in 2008, was the head of the far-right Freedom Party before breaking away to form the Alliance for the Future of Austria five years ago.

During his political career, he achieved notoriety for, among other things, a visit to Iraq to meet Saddam on the eve of the 2003 US-led invasion and a friendship with Gaddafi when Libya was still an international pariah.

Extracts from a confiscated black booklet, handwritten by Walter Meischberger, a former Freedom Party politician, are to be published in Wednesday's issue of Falter, a Vienna weekly.

According to an advance copy of the Falter article, the diary mentions a $58.7m transfer from Gaddafi, as well as more than $13.3m that unidentified individuals brought home from Iraq.

It also references an anonymous Haider confidant who supposedly brought a suitcase filled with $6.6m from Switzerland to Munich for investment purposes.

According to the diary, the money came from a Swiss account belonging to the dead sons of Saddam.

Complex accounts

A weekend report in the magazine Profil said Haider had secretly stashed up to $58.7m in a complex network of trust accounts in Liechtenstein.

The principality's prosecutor's office said it had no confiscated material confirming the existence of such accounts.

Meischberger cites Franz Koloini, Haider's former protocol chief, as the source for the claims made in the diary, referring to him at times as "Franzi".

Koloini, who could not independently be reached for comment, was quoted by Austrian broadcaster ORF as saying he met with Meischberger but told him only about rumours, not facts.

He also said he did not know if there had been payments by Saddam or Gaddafi.

Thomas Vecsey, a spokesman for the Vienna public prosecutor's office, confirmed the existence of the diary but declined to comment on its contents, saying it was under investigation.

A lawyer for Saddam and his family, who requested to remain anonymous, said he had no knowledge of any purported transfer of $6.6m

Source:
Agencies
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