Prosecutors raid Austrian conservatives' HQ in fresh headache for Kurz
Austrian prosecutors raided the offices of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's conservative party and some of his closest aides on Wednesday on what Austrian media said was suspicion of corruption involving state payments for newspaper advertising.
Austrian prosecutors raided the offices of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's conservative party and some of his closest aides on Wednesday on what Austrian media said was suspicion of corruption involving state payments for newspaper advertising. The investigation is a fresh political headache for Kurz, whom anti-corruption prosecutors placed under investigation separately in May on suspicion of perjury. A department of the Finance Ministry was also raided, a ministry spokesman said.
The raids also come a week after the People's Party (OVP) said it had received numerous questions from reporters about a possible raid of its offices. The OVP has repeatedly accused anti-corruption prosecutors of bias against it and Kurz, which prosecutors' and judges organisations deny. "Further allegations are being fabricated about events, some of which were five years ago. This keeps happening with the same aim and method: to seriously harm the People's Party and Sebastian Kurz," OVP Deputy Chairwoman Gaby Schwarz said in a statement confirming the party's offices had been raided.
Schwarz said a similar raid had been carried out at OVP headquarters in 2013 and found "nothing incriminating". The anti-corruption prosecutors' office declined to comment.
A spokesman for the Austrian Chancellery confirmed that the desks and homes of a spokesman, the head of media relations and a senior Kurz aide had been raided, without saying why. Austrian media reported that prosecutors were acting on suspicion of corruption involving government payments for newspaper advertising in exchange for favourable coverage or polling.
Tabloid daily Oesterreich denied it had received government payments for advertising in exchange for publishing opinion polls, adding that anti-graft prosecutors were investigating on the basis of "evidently serious misunderstandings". Austrian ministries' large budgets for newspaper advertising have long been identified as a possible source of undue influence on the media.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)