Austrian Chancellor Under Investigation by Anti-Corruption Authorities

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz confirmed on May 12 that anti-corruption authorities are investigating him over allegations that he lied to a parliamentary commission.

Kurz said that he was under investigation by the the Economic and Corruption Prosecutor’s Office on suspicion of providing false statements during a parliamentary probe on the so-called Ibiza scandal, in which a video appeared to show then-vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache offering favors to a woman posing as a Russian investor in return for her supporting his far-right Freedom Party.

Kurz also said that his chief of staff Bernhard Bonella, is also under investigation.

Kurz denied the allegations.

“It’s a pity…that it has become a common method in the commission to create a heated atmosphere with leading questions and sometimes even insinuations, and then at the same time to try to twist every word in your mouth,” Kurz said at a press conference.

“I would like to point out that I have always spent hours in the committee trying to answer all questions as truthfully as possible — despite the fact that these are issues that go back many years and have not exactly been among the main topics of my own activity as head of government,” Kurz further said.

Anti-corruption prosecutors are also investigating Kurz over claims of nepotism, including the appointment of loyalist Thomas Schmid as chief executive of state-run holding company Öbag.

Kurz said that he had not been involved in Schmid’s appointment and that it was a decision made by Öbag’s board of directors.

However, text messages between Kurz and Schmid suggested that he may have played a role in the appointment.

Under Austrian law, providing false statements under oath to a parliamentary commission carries a possible jail sentence of up to three years in prison.

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