The Austrian ex-billionaire René Benko has canceled his eagerly awaited appearance before a parliamentary investigative committee in Vienna. The founder of the insolvent real estate and trading group Signa will not appear on Thursday as planned, the parliamentary directorate announced on Wednesday evening. The reason for the cancellation was that the investor cited concerns about his rights as a suspect in ongoing proceedings, it said.

Benko has never made a public statement since the wave of insolvencies in the Signa Group began last year. His questioning in the committee would also have been his first public appearance in months.

The Austrian parliament’s investigative committee was set up by opposition parties to shed light on the alleged favoritism of rich entrepreneurs like Benko by the conservative ÖVP chancellor party.