The nationwide Fiscal Offences Sector of the Anti-Fraud Office ensures that fiscal criminal proceedings are handled by the administrative authorities in accordance with the rule of law. In addition, it is active in the service of the criminal justice system in case of financial offences to be punished juridically and has the tasks and powers to which the Criminal Investigation Department is entitled under the Austrian Code of Criminal Procedure.
From 1 January 2021 on, the Anti-Fraud Office is responsible for conducting financial criminal proceedings as the Fiscal Authority for Criminal Offences with the Fiscal Offences Sector.
The bodies of the fiscal penal authorities are active in the service of the criminal justice system in the investigation of financial offences to be punished by the court and have the tasks and powers to which the Criminal Investigation Department is entitled under the Austrian Code of Criminal Procedure.
The Fiscal Authority for Criminal Offences must examine all facts that it recognises from its own perception and the notifications and communications it receives, including those from other public authorities, with regard to their relevance under fiscal penal law. For example, pursuant to the Austrian Fiscal Penal Code it is entitled to obtain information, to order inspections and checks in accordance with the tax and monopoly regulations and to request special information from postal and public communications operators as well as parcel service providers, and to inspect certain registers. Especially in cases of serious tax and customs crimes, such as major cases of fraud with international ramifications, investigations are complex and require extensive legal knowledge and cooperation with domestic and foreign authorities. If there are sufficient grounds for suspicion, criminal investigations must be conducted.
In financial criminal proceedings by the administrative authorities, the Fiscal Authority for Criminal Offences is responsible for conducting the oral proceedings and rendering the penalty decision, as well as for the execution of the penalty. If the penally relevant amount exceeds € 33,000, an appraisal court of three members, chaired by a judge, shall be responsible for conducting the oral proceedings and rendering the decision. The court is competent to punish financial offences (only) if they were committed intentionally and the penally relevant amount of the fine exceeds € 100,000.
The Fiscal Authority for Criminal Offences must also coordinate the measures ordered by it and, in the case of necessary coercive measures, issue the necessary decisions. If criminal decisions and rulings are contested by means of legal remedies, the Fiscal Authority for Criminal Offences is also responsible for handling the legal remedies and supporting the proceedings all the way to the highest courts.