Austria is a member of the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and also ratified the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. As part of the UNCAC ratification process, Austria has implemented a national anti-corruption strategy. Central elements of the strategy are promoting transparency in public sector decisions and raising awareness of corruption. Corruption generally is not a major issue in Austria, which ranked 15th (out of 180 countries) in Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index. Despite this ranking, the Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) February 2021 report criticized Austria for only fully implementing two of 19 recommendations since the last report was issued in 2017. The criticism largely focused on a lack of transparency on lobbying, receipt of donations, and the income of Members of Parliament. Austria is required to produce a progress report in September 2021.
Bribery of public officials, their family members and political parties, is covered under the Austrian Criminal Code, and corruption does not significantly affect business in Austria. However, the 2017 Ibiza scandal in which then-Vice Chancellor Heinz Christian Strache and right populist Freedom Party FPOe party chairman Johann Gudenus were filmed discussing providing government contracts in exchange for favors and party donations shook the public’s belief in the integrity of the political system. This was compounded by further revelations in 2019 that the FPOe had allegedly promised gambling licenses to Casinos Austria in exchange for placing a party loyalist on the company’s executive board. As of April 2021, prosecutors are also investigating allegations Finance Minister Bluemel (from the governing, center-right People’s Party, OeVP) may have facilitated an exchange of party donations by Casinos Austria subsidiary Novomatic, in exchange for government assistance with the company’s tax problems.
Anti-corruption cases are often characterized by slow-moving trials that drag on for years. The trial of former Finance Minister Grasser, which started in 2017, concluded in late 2020, with Grasser receiving a sentence of eight years in prison from the trial court judge. Grasser is appealing the sentence, with a ruling at the next instance (appellate level) in his case expected during the second half of 2021.
Bribing members of Parliament is considered a criminal offense, and accepting a bribe is a punishable offense with the sentence varying depending on the amount of the bribe. The 2018 Austrian Federal Contracts Act implements EU guidelines prohibiting participating in public procurement contracts if there is a potential conflict of interest and requires measures to be put in place to detect and prevent such conflicts of interest. This required public authorities to set up compliance management systems or amend their existing structures accordingly. Virtually all Austrian companies have internal codes of conduct governing bribery and potential conflicts of interest.
Corruption provisions in Austria’s Criminal Code cover managers of Austrian public enterprises, civil servants, and other officials (with functions in legislation, administration, or justice on behalf of Austria, in a foreign country, or an international organization), representatives of public companies, members of parliament, government members, and mayors. The term “corruption” includes the following in the Austrian interpretation: active and passive bribery; illicit intervention; and abuse of office. Corruption can sometimes include a private manager’s fraud, embezzlement, or breach of trust.
Criminal penalties for corruption include imprisonment ranging from six months to ten years, depending on the severity of the offence. Jurisdiction for corruption investigations rests with the Austrian Federal Bureau of Anti-Corruption and covers corruption taking place both within and outside the country. The Lobbying Act of 2013 introduced binding rules of conduct for lobbying. It requires domestic and foreign organizations to register with the Austrian Ministry of Justice. Financing of political parties requires disclosure of donations exceeding EUR 2,500 (USD 2,800). No donor is allowed to give more than EUR 7,500 (USD 8,400) and total donations to one political party may not exceed EUR 750,000 (USD 840,000) in a single year. Foreigners are prohibited from making donations to political parties. Private companies are subject to the Austrian Act on Corporate Criminal Liability, which makes companies liable for active and passive criminal offences. Penalties include fines up to EUR 1.8 million (USD 2.0 million).
To date, U.S. companies have not reported any instances of corruption inhibiting FDI.
Resources to Report Corruption
Contacts at government agencies responsible for combating corruption:
Wirtschafts- und Korruptionsstaatsanwaltschaft (Central Public Prosecution for Business Offenses and Corruption)
1030 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43-(0)1-52 1 52 0
BAK – Bundesamt zur Korruptionsprävention und Korruptionsbekämpfung (Federal Agency for Preventing and Fighting Corruption)
Ministry of the Interior
1010 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43-(0)1-531 26 – 6800
Contact at “watchdog” organization:
Transparency International – Austrian Chapter
1090 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43-(0)1-960 760
13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics
|Host Country Statistical source*||USG or international statistical source||USG or International Source of Data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other|
|Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD)||2020||$428 billion||2020||$445 billion||www.worldbank.org/en/country|
|Foreign Direct Investment||Host Country Statistical source*||USG or international statistical source||USG or international Source of data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other|
|U.S. FDI in partner country ($B USD, stock positions)||2019||$13.70||2019||$7.64||BEA data available at https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/|
|Host country’s FDI in the United States ($B USD, stock positions)||2019||$13.76||2019||$6.25||BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data|
|Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP||2019||45.8||2019||1.0% (flow)||UNCTAD data available at https://stats.unctad.org/handbook/
* Source for Host Country Data: Austrian Statistics Office (GDP); Austrian National Bank (FDI, published March 2020)
|Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data|
|From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)|
|Inward Direct Investment||Outward Direct Investment|
|Total Inward||201,287||100%||Total Outward||248,978||100%|
|“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.|
|Portfolio Investment Assets|
|Top Five Partners (Millions, current US Dollars)|
|Total||Equity Securities||Total Debt Securities|
|All Countries||368,776||100%||All Countries||157,873||100%||All Countries||210,904||100%|
|United States||35,558||10%||United States||18,338||6%||United States||17,249||8%|