Fraud scandal hits Salzburg Festival

Posted on: February 9, 2010

In Monday’s (2/8) Independent (London), Tony Paterson writes, “A scandal of Wagnerian proportions has engulfed Salzburg’s music festival, just weeks before Sir Simon Rattle conducts the German composer’s opera Götterdämmerung, a tale of corruption and downfall that now seems particularly apt. The week-long Easter festival has been shaken to the core after an apparent suicide attempt by its technical chief and the disappearance of the director amid allegations of a massive fraud totalling over €2m (£1.7m). Austrian state prosecutors announced at the weekend that they were investigating eight people connected with the event on suspicion of deception and embezzlement. … The extent of the scandal began to unfold in early December following the abrupt dismissal of Michael Dewitte, the festival’s executive director, who is now being sought by police after disappearing without trace. Mr Dewitte is alleged to have illicitly channelled thousands of euros of sponsors’ donations into foreign bank accounts; fiddled expenses; and paid for services which were not actually used by the festival. … Last week Klaus Kretschmer, the festival’s long-serving technical chief, was found lying badly injured and unconscious under a Salzburg bridge. He was relieved of his duties after he too was implicated in the scandal. … Before his fall from the bridge he insisted that he was innocent.”

Posted February 9, 2010