Austrian justice is once again targeting the conservative ÖVP party and its leader, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. As a result of the investigations into the plug-ins and the alleged illegal funding arising from the scandal of Ibiza case, the prosecution carried out searches on Wednesday at the headquarters of the ÖVP in Vienna and in various offices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to Austrian media, the investigations concern at least a spokesperson for the head of government and several advisers. The anti-corruption prosecution has yet to rule on the case, but plans to issue a statement throughout the day.
Investigators analyze alleged advertising funding and pro-government and ÖVP polls in Austrian newspaper, newspapers say The press and The standard. The Austrian People’s Party reacted to the searches with a statement in which it accuses the investigators of having the objective of “massively harming the ÖVP and Sebastian Kurz” and of “fabricating reproaches” against them. In the note, the representative of the general secretary of the party, Gaby Schwarz, confirms the files and affirms that there was already another judicial intervention in 2013 which found “nothing incriminating”.
The Österreich media group, to which the information about the investigation refers, released through the agency APA a statement in which it categorically denies any agreement with the Ministry of Finance for the “payment of investigations through of advertisements “.
The investigations, in principle, are therefore not linked to the summaries that were opened after the revelations of the ultra former vice-chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache (FPÖ) in a recording made with a hidden camera in Ibiza in 2017, in which he was offering contracts to the public in front of a bogus Russian oligarch to whom he also suggested irregular party donations.
However, the files and possible new accusations deal a further blow to the image of the majority party and the Kurz executive, which is already the subject of an investigation for suspected false testimony before the parliamentary committee which analyzed the revelations of Ibiza case. Kurz, accompanied by his lawyer, testified before a judge in early September and denied the accusation, focusing on his possible intervention to place a close advisor at the head of the state-owned Öbag company. Several media published part of the statement, which left the image of a foreign minister tense over the questions of the anti-corruption prosecution, which he accused of bias and botched investigations that did not lead to nothing.
The Conservative leader, who governs in coalition with Los Verdes, is not the only party and executive leader affected by the inquiries triggered by the Ibiza case, which led him in May 2019 to break the pact he had with the far right and to call early elections. Last March, the prosecution ordered the search of the home of the Minister of Finance, Gernot Blümel, of the circle closest to Kurz, suspected of donations to the ÖVP in exchange for intermediation for a gaming company and casinos that investigation and refusal of signature.
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The prosecution has opened several cases for possible bribes or illegal donations and has already obtained a first 15-month sentence against the former ultra leader Strache for promoting a legal change that affected a clinic private in exchange for money for his party. Prosecutors also investigated other former senior officials and party members.
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