Austrian heiress Marlene Engelhorn reveals plan for €25m giveaway

Austrian heiress Marlene Engelhorn reveals plan for €25m giveaway By Fathimath Nasli - January 11, 2024
Austrian heiress Marlene Engelhorn reveals plan for €25m giveaway

Marlene Engelhorn

Marlene Engelhorn, a 31-year-old Austro-German heiress residing in Vienna, is establishing a citizens group to decide how €25 million (£21.5 million) of her inherited fortune should be distributed.

Unhappy with the lack of inheritance taxes in Austria, she believes it's unfair that she obtained wealth and power without earning it. She is a descendant of Friedrich Engelhorn, the founder of BASF, and inherited millions from her grandmother, Traudl Engelhorn-Vechiatto, estimated to be worth $4.2 billion (£3.3 billion; €3.8 billion) by Forbes.

Engelhorn aims to give away about 90% of her inheritance and has initiated the "Good Council for Redistribution." She sent 10,000 invitations to randomly selected Austrian citizens over 16 years old, allowing them to register online or by phone to participate. From this pool, 50 people will be chosen, with 15 substitutes, to form the council. If politicians fail to redistribute wealth, Engelhorn feels compelled to take matters into her own hands.

Christoph Hofinger, Managing Director of the Foresight Institute supporting the initiative, emphasized that the council would comprise individuals from diverse backgrounds and age groups.They will contribute ideas during meetings held in Salzburg from March to June, aiming to develop solutions in the interest of society. Participants will be compensated, and travel costs covered.

Engelhorn clarified that she has no veto rights; her assets are entrusted to the 50-member council. If they can't reach a widely supported decision on fund distribution, the money will revert to Engelhorn. The exact proportion of her inheritance being given away remains unclear, but she mentioned in 2021 her intention to donate at least 90% due to the "birth lottery" fortune.

Austria abolished inheritance tax in 2008, and its reinstatement has become a contentious issue.The Social Democrats advocate for its return, while the People's Party rejects new taxes, emphasizing relief for citizens in terms of net income.

Source: BBC

By Fathimath Nasli - January 11, 2024

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