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Austria's chancellor being investigated by anti-corruption prosecutors

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By Reuters
Austria's chancellor being investigated by anti-corruption prosecutors
Austria's chancellor being investigated by anti-corruption prosecutors   -   Copyright  (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021. Click For Restrictions -

VIENNA (Reuters) – Anti-corruption prosecutors are investigating Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz over possible false testimony to a parliamentary commission investigating the fallout from the so-called Ibiza sting video that felled a previous government.

Kurz told a news conference arranged at short notice on Wednesday that he and his chief of staff had been placed under investigation, adding: “I knew there was a legal requirement to speak the truth in the commission and therefore of course always answered (questions) truthfully.”

Kurz and his party have clashed with opposition lawmakers in the commission of inquiry, which has looked into issues including suspected nepotism and whether appointments to posts at state-owned companies were made correctly.

The commission has looked into the appointment in 2019 of conservative loyalist Thomas Schmid as the chief executive of OBAG, which manages Austria’s stakes in companies including oil firm OMV. Text messages examined by the commission showed Kurz telling Schmid before then he would get “everything you want”.

The Prosecutors’ Office for Economic Affairs and Corruption confirmed an investigation was under way into Kurz.

“It is regarding the allegation that a false statement was made before the Ibiza commission of inquiry in connection with the establishment of OBAG,” a spokesman said.

While Kurz and his party have a commanding lead in opinion polls, the investigation is fresh blow after his Finance Minister Gernot Bluemel’s home was raided in February as part of an investigation on suspicion of bribery and corruption offences. He denies any wrongdoing.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy and Alexandra Schwarz-Goerlich; Editing by Alison Williams)