Zsuzsa Voldvari (Vienna);
Austria, Russian Gas, OMV, Vladimir Putin;
However, it became increasingly clear from the allegations against him that Vienna found a scapegoat in his person because the country is 80 percent dependent on Russian gas supplies.
The activities of the shareholders of OMV Rainer Seele, CEO for 2021, which were now scheduled to be determined at a general meeting, were not approved. Even before the weekend event, he had heard that small shareholders would express their dissatisfaction with the CEO of the Austrian energy giant from 2015-2021.
Consent is often a formal step, as if personal errors and mistakes are later revealed in connection with the management of a listed company, the acquitted person can be recovered and investigated afterwards. However, not only did the minority shareholders withdraw their confidence after that, 71% of all OMV holders voted against it, while all other board members approved the action.
However, it became increasingly clear from the allegations against him that Vienna found a scapegoat in his person because the country is 80 percent dependent on Russian gas supplies. This appears to be confirmed by the conservative daily Die Presse on Wednesday, according to which as early as 2015, a secret “friendly” body warned the energy company, beware of the appointment, because the German director is too attached to Moscow and has too much power. business relations. Moreover, this friendly secret service claimed that the appointment of the North German leader in Austria was in Russia’s interest, with the direct support of Putin, in the hope of linking the OMV to Russia.
Politicians in the grand coalition that ruled Austria in 2015, namely the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats, did not take Seely’s Russian connection a bad name at all. They also knew that Seele, born in 1960, had worked at OMV before a German giant called Wintershall, which brought him to the top position between 2009 and 2015 in the largest producer of crude oil and natural gas in today’s German energy economy. Wintershall had already contracted with Gazprom for the sale of Russian gas in the 1990s, and in 1993 a joint venture was created for this, which became wholly owned by Russia in 2015. It is known that Wintershall is a co-owner of Gazprom subsidiary Nord Stream2, which was closed This year.
The appointment of Seely in Austria was an official decision by the company’s chairman, but it is clear that the politicians decided it. “Investments in Russia since 2015 have overestimated Russia’s role and have found it flawed in the past. If you mention a loss of only €2 billion which we had to write off in the first quarter of 2022, Mark Jarrett, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, said at the General Assembly, Any other beautification efforts are not justified.”
Seele has also been criticized for hastily extending its gas supply contract with Gazprom until 2040 in 2018, in a hurry to expire in 2028. The agreement cannot be withdrawn prematurely, and Russian gas will have to be paid for by 2040 even if he resigns. (These are the restrictive terms that prevent Austria from participating in the EU’s gas sanctions program against Russia.)
It was discussed at the general meeting that during the tenure of the German director, illegal internal investigations and observations were organized against OMV employees. They also reported that on Seely’s instructions, the Austrian company sponsored Vladimir Putin’s favorite football team, Zenit Saint Petersburg, for 15 million euros. The case is being investigated, as are the other disputed steps.
Analysts stress that Seely is not the only official, and many well-known figures in Austrian politics and business have long praised his pro-Russian energy policy, often for financial gain. Presumably this is due to the resignation of the head of the supervisory board of the Austrian state real estate agency ÖBAG, which expires only next year, on Tuesday. Helmut Kern has held a senior position since 2019, where the real estate agency oversees a 31.5 percent stake in Austrian state-owned OMV.
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