Ex-Austria security official held on suspicion of spying

By Thomson Reuters Mar 30, 2024 | 5:12 AM

VIENNA (Reuters) – A former Austrian domestic intelligence official with alleged ties to a fugitive former executive of collapsed German payments company Wirecard has been detained on suspicion of spying.

Egisto Ott, an ex-employee of the now defunct Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism (BVT), was arrested on Friday with another person, according to a spokesperson for the Vienna public prosecutor’s office.

The spokesperson declined to say what the nature of the spying allegations against Ott was, except that they related to abuse of office and were detrimental to Austria.

Ott, who has denied any wrongdoing, could not immediately be reached for comment.

According to German and Austrian media reports, Ott is suspected of passing information to Jan Marsalek, a former board member of German payments company Wirecard, which imploded in 2020. Marsalek, an Austrian, is wanted by German police over alleged fraud and his whereabouts are currently unknown.

German magazine Der Spiegel said Ott and another former Austrian security official fed Marsalek with sensitive data. Ott rejected the allegations in an article published this month by Austrian newspaper Der Standard.

A court in Munich has been trying former executives of Wirecard since December 2022.

(Writing by Dave Graham; Editing by Frances Kerry)