Austrian banker investigated over Madoff scandal claims made in British journalist's book

Austrian prosecutors have opened a probe into a top Austrian banker after a self-published book by a British journalist about connections between wealthy European bankers and disgraced financial fraudster Bernie Madoff.

The book by Michael Leidig called 'Pyramid Games' was published in September and detailed how gullible investors the world over had their lifesavings channelled into the bogus investment funds of Madoff.

In order to allow the claims to be brought out into the open the book was filed in the Austrian Parliament by opposition MP Hans Joerg Jenewein from the Freedom Party, giving its contents legal privilege.

Leidig said that Bank Austria under Randa had two of its directors on the board of the Manhattan Investment Fund, another fraud-hit US investment vehicle. When the man behind it, Michael Berger, threatened to reveal Bank Austria secrets shortly before he was jailed in America he suddenly vanished only to turn up in Austria seven years later, living at his parents despite the fact that he was supposedly America's most wanted man. The case against him in Austria is still not yet underway.

Bernie Madoff was jailed in 2009 for 150 years.

Leidig said that Randa had not been even looked at by prosecutors until the publication of his book. Earlier today, prosecutors revealed that Randa is now a suspect in their investigation into Austrian connections with the Madoff scandal.

Randa confirmed that he had been informed about the investigation in a conversation with Bank Austria officials, but said he had not been given any more details.

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