Victory by Acquittal for Cevdet Caner

September 17, 2020 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
Vienna/Berlin – Cevdet Caner and five co-defendants were acquitted on all counts by the Regional Court for Criminal Matters in Vienna on September 15, 2020.

As expected, the charges of conspiracy, aggravated commercial fraud, fraudulent insolvency, and money-laundering brought by the Prosecutor's Office in Vienna were, without exception, dismissed by the court for lack of merit.

As chairman of the board and owner of Level One Group, Cevdet Caner had acquired and leased to third parties intact and commercially valuable real estate primarily in Germany on a large scale starting in 2005, creating a solid residential real estate portfolio of substantial volume. Amidst the preparations for the IPO planned by the successful company, a consortium of banks and hedge funds used the opportunity of a hostile takeover in 2008 – the peak of the global financial crisis – leading Level One Group intentionally, and to the detriment of numerous investors, into planned insolvency.

Although a criminal investigation of Cevdet Caner had been launched following the insolvency, the Prosecutor's Office of Berlin terminated the investigation due to the complete absence of any evidence supporting a reasonable suspicion that a criminal offense had been committed. As a result, no charges were ever filed in Germany. The Prosecutor's Office in England, where Level One Group was domiciled on Jersey due to the planned IPO at the London Stock Exchange, did not even launch an investigation, i.e., it did not even harbor any initial suspicion that a criminal offense had been committed.

In contrast, the Prosecutor's Office in Vienna took eight long years for its investigations before finally bringing charges against Cevdet Caner and five co-defendants in 2018. However, it did so even though the investigating prosecutor herself had never cross-examined the primary defendant, Cevdet Caner, before. Already in the course of the investigation the Court of Appeals of Vienna repeatedly complained that the charges had not been sufficiently substantiated and therefore repeatedly terminated investigative measures by the Prosecutor's Office of Vienna, resulting in public liability for the Republic of Austria. Ultimately, the deficiencies of the prosecutorial investigation were even reviewed by the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg, which on September 20, 2018 ruled that the "excessive" length of the proceeding in the Republic of Austria violated human rights and ordered the Republic of Austria to pay compensatory damages.

At the beginning of the criminal proceeding in November 2018, Cevdet Caner therefore stated that after the excessively lengthy investigation of the Prosecutor's Office in Vienna, he welcomed the beginning of the criminal proceeding and, thus, the long-awaited, competent, and objective settlement of the factual issues by a competent and unbiased court, which, in his opinion, could only result in his full vindication. And this is what happened.

During the ensuing criminal proceeding, which lasted almost two years, the Regional Court for Criminal Matters in Vienna investigated the charges in great detail, comprehensively, and objectively. At no point during the course of the criminal proceeding did the proceeding reach a critical stage for the defendants. Yet, even though the course of the proceeding was positive for the defendants throughout, the Prosecutor's Office saw no reason to drop its charges, as would have been appropriate, not even with respect to some of the counts or some of the co-defendants.

Under the presidency of Judge Michael Tolstiuk, who handled the criminal proceeding adeptly and circumspectly, the proceeding, which took 55 days, involved the cross-examination of 51 witnesses, included an in-depth examination of an opinion from the court-appointed expert, and generated a court file of several thousand pages, produced the same result that had been produced already 10 years earlier in Germany and England: the absence of any criminal or other unlawful conduct and thus the innocence of Cevdet Caner and the additional co-defendants.

Contact person for additional information:

Dr. Ben M. Irle LL.M.
Board-certified attorney for copyright and media law
Board-certified attorney for intellectual property law

IRLE MOSER Rechtsanwälte PartG
Unter den Linden 32–34 / 10117 Berlin
Telephone: +49 30 210 219 60/Fax: +49 30 210 219 70

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