Austria’s chancellor under investigation on suspicion of bribery
Sebastian Kurz, nine others being probed over various allegations
The Austrian Public Prosecutor’s Office for Combating Economic Crime and Corruption launched an investigation Wednesday into the country's chancellor and nine other people over allegations of bribery and misleading the public.
Raids were carried out in the morning hours at several locations as prosecutors suspected that the Finance Ministry and Sebastian Kurz’s conservative People’s Party (OVP) bribed newspaper owner Wolfgang Fellner to positively portray the chancellor in his firm’s publications.
A statement from the public prosecutor's office alleged that between 2016 and 2018, funds from the Finance Ministry were used to pay for “party politically motivated and sometimes manipulated surveys” by a polling body.
At the time, Kurz took over the leadership of the right-wing People’s Party and formed a coalition government with the far-right Freedom Party.
It was noted that the names of two senior managers of the Osterreich tabloid, which received the most advertisements in the country, were included in the investigation.
President Alexander Van der Bellen, in a statement following the developments, spoke of an unusual and very serious procedure and drew attention to the importance of not interfering with the law.
Kurz, who had been attending a summit of EU leaders in Slovenia, denied the accusations cited as grounds for the investigation.
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