June 17, 2011 / 3:31 PM / 8 years ago

Atrium settles suits with coffee bean heir Meinl

VIENNA, June 17 (Reuters) - Property development group Atrium European Real Estate has settled a high-profile legal battle with Austrian coffee bean heir Julius Meinl V and his bank, Atrium said on Friday.

“The agreement provides for the settlement of all disputes between Atrium and others, on the one hand, and Meinl Bank and others, on the other hand, and requires dismissal of all claims between them,” Atrium said.

The accord means neither Meinl Bank nor Atrium has to compensate the other and it severs all business ties. It specifies that no party engaged in any wrongdoing.

Meinl’s former property firm sued him for 2.1 billion euros ($2.97 billion) in London last year, alleging he masterminded deals that enriched him at the expense of its shareholders.

Atrium sued Meinl, his bank and its chief executive, and former managers of Atrium, a shopping mall developer formerly known as Meinl European Land.

Atrium had accused Meinl and an “inner circle” of confidants at Meinl Land of orchestrating a 1.8 billion euro share buyback that resulted in massive losses for the company and its shareholders, and that his bank overcharged for its services.

Meinl Bank rejected the charges as “absurd and populistic”.

The claim came two years after a group led by Israeli investor Gazit Globe struck a deal with Meinl under which it took over control of Meinl Land, propped it up with fresh money, renamed it and severed its ties to Meinl Bank.

The lawsuit was largely based on the same events that are the basis for an ongoing probe against Julius Meinl by Austrian prosecutors who suspect he defrauded Meinl Land shareholders and funneled the company’s funds into his bank’s coffers.

Julius Meinl was arrested for two days in April 2009 and is still on a record 100 million euro bail — more than ten times the $10 million bond posted by U.S. swindler Bernard Madoff in 2008 — which a Vienna judge last upheld in July.

No charges have been brought yet in the probe.

Julius Meinl’s family started selling coffee beans in Vienna in 1862, building a retail network that became a leading grocery chain in the Austro-Hungarian empire and later in Austria and its neighbouring countries. (Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Erica Billingham) ($1=.7061 Euro)

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