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Austrian banker arrested on suspicion of fraud

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[April 03, 2009]  VIENNA (AP) -- The prominent owner of Austria's private Meinl Bank AG has been arrested on suspicion of offenses including breach of trust and fraud, an official said.

HardwareJulius Meinl V was detained in Vienna late Wednesday, said Gerhard Jarosch, a spokesman for the Austrian capital's public prosecutor's office.

Meinl comes from an established Austrian family that from 1862 built up an empire centered on the sale of coffee and the trade in former colonial goods. Almost 150 years later, the Julius Meinl am Graben delicatessen store in central Vienna sells fine food items from around the world and the Meinl brand is considered to be synonymous with good quality.

Among other things, Meinl is suspected of defrauding investors through unauthorized transactions linked to the former company Meinl European Land, now known as Atrium European Real Estate.

"It's a very complicated matter," Jarosch said.

Jarosch said Meinl, who is a British national, was detained for fear he could try to flee to avoid prosecution.

On Thursday afternoon, a judge ruled that Meinl should be held for at least another two weeks as the investigation into his alleged wrongdoing continues. However, according to Jarosch, Meinl would soon be released on a euro100 million ($130 million) bail bond. Jarosch said the money had already been deposited onto an account and was undergoing verification.

Meinl has been under investigation for some time. In February, authorities carried out house searches at various locations in an attempt to gather evidence.

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




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