Austria’s ex-chancellor Sebastian Kurz accused of false testimony

Austria's ex-Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has again been heavily burdened by statements from an insider.  It's about allegations of corruption.

Austria’s former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) has been charged with suspected false statements. This was announced by the Economic and Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (WKStA) on Friday in Vienna. The indictment is about statements by the 36-year-old in the Ibiza investigative committee of the Austrian Parliament.

In the committee in June 2020, Kurz downplayed his role in appointing the head of the Öbag state holding company, Thomas Schmid. He was informed about the decision in advance, but did not participate further, according to his statement at the time.

Ex-Chancellor Kurz accused of making false statements

Based on chat messages, however, the public prosecutor assumes that the former head of government was very well involved in the personnel. From mid-2017 at the latest, Kurz and Schmid would have exchanged views on the subject on a regular basis. Kurz has always vehemently denied the allegations. “The allegations are false and we look forward to it when the truth finally comes to light and the allegations turn out to be unfounded in court,” Kurz wrote on the X platform (formerly Twitter). It is not surprising for him and his team that the authority decided to file a criminal complaint despite 30 exculpatory testimonies.

The WKStA has been investigating Kurz since spring 2021 after a complaint by the social democratic SPÖ and liberal NEOS on suspicion of false statements. According to the authorities, the penalty for the alleged crime is up to three years in prison.

Further charges in the “advertisement scandal” are imminent

Kurz may also have an indictment in the so-called advertisement scandal. It’s about embellished surveys and government advertisements in tabloid newspapers that are said to have been paid for with taxpayers’ money. Several people are being investigated on suspicion of breach of trust, bribery and corruption. Here, too, Kurz denies the allegations.

The former head of the ÖVP, once a highly valued hope for the conservatives throughout Europe, has twice headed a coalition in Austria. From 2017 to 2019, Kurz led an alliance between the ÖVP and the right-wing FPÖ. From 2020 to 2021 he was head of government in a coalition of the ÖVP and the Greens. In view of the allegations, he initially resigned from his posts in autumn 2021. In December 2021 he announced his complete departure from politics. He is now an entrepreneur and lobbyist.

The reason for all investigations was the Ibiza affair. In a video secretly recorded on the holiday island, the then FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache appeared susceptible to corruption. The coalition of ÖVP and FPÖ broke up in 2019 because of the affair.

In the search for evidence of nepotism and corruption during the Kurz government, Schmid’s mobile phone played a central role. More than 300,000 chats – often considered incriminating by the public prosecutor – were a treasure trove for the investigators. Schmid himself offered himself as a key witness in the affair and repeatedly incriminated Kurz, with whom he had a close relationship.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here