Rechnungshof

The Linz files scandal: neither the mayor nor top officials responded to warnings

29.03.2019 - The city administration failed to follow up on administrative offences and to impose fines as stipulated by law.

Aktenstapel  - Copyright: Foto: istock.com/jmccurley

An adequate organization was lacking, which is why files remained unprocessed over many years. Consequently, the city administration failed to generate revenue from fines. This is revealed by the report of the ACA, which was published today. 

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Administrative Penalty Proceedings in the City of Linz

From November 2017 to February 2018, the Austrian Court of Audit (ACA) carried out an audit of the administrative penalty proceedings in the city of Linz upon a request of the Upper Austrian provincial government. This audit was requested against the backdrop of the so-called Linz files scandal around the delay and the end of the limitation period of administrative penalty proceed-ings. In its audit request, the provincial parliament posed ten questions. The audited period spanned the years from 2010 through 2017.

In June 2016, the financial police issued a complaint to the major of Linz accusing the department for administrative penalties of fulfilling its tasks in an incomplete manner. In December 2016, the financial police issued a second complaint in which it pointed to 155 terminations of proceedings. In the second half of 2016, the Linz Audit Office carried out an audit of the responsible division and submitted a report in February 2017. In May 2017, eventually, the financial police presented an exposition of facts to the public prosecution office of Linz. At the time of the audit, the proce-dure was still ongoing.

In the audited period, the city of Linz was responsible for administrative penalty proceedings under about 270 federal laws and around 90 provincial laws and ordinances. The income result-ing therefrom accounted for EUR 7.92 million. Such income remained, depending on the respec-tive law, either within the city of Linz or was to be transferred to external recipients (e.g. Public Employment Service, Economic Chamber of Upper Austria, ASFINAG). This transfer proved to be particularly complicated in the case of laws that stipulated the splitting of penalties among sev-eral recipients. In case of road traffic offences, for example, the fine was to be distributed between up to five different recipients – depending on the operator to the Federation, the province, the municipality or the private owner, as well as to the police if the latter had filed the complaint.

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