Austria's Former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz Faces Perjury Charges

Former conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, of the ÖVP party, found himself in the eye of a storm

by Faruk Imamovic
Austria's Former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz Faces Perjury Charges

In a move that has sent ripples through Austria's political landscape, former conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, of the ÖVP party, finds himself in the eye of a storm. He has been charged with perjury, stemming from allegations that he misled a parliamentary panel, reports Euractiv.

The Heart of the Controversy: ÖBAG's Top Appointment

The Austrian state holding company ÖBAG, akin to a sovereign fund, is no small entity. Boasting a staggering worth of more than 30 billion euros, its leadership is pivotal to the nation's economic landscape.

And it's this very leadership position that's at the center of the controversy. When the moment arrived to select a new leader for this behemoth, the chairman of the board, Thomas Schmid - a known party loyalist - was chosen.

What raised eyebrows, however, were intercepted chat logs suggesting that then-Chancellor Kurz might have played a significant hand in this decision. Further muddying the waters was Kurz's 2020 appearance before a parliamentary inquiry probing another corruption matter.

This was tied to the notorious Ibiza scandal, in which far-right Vice Chancellor Christian Strache was caught offering government contracts in a quid pro quo for party donations from a woman purported to be related to a Russian oligarch.

During this inquiry, when questioned about his role in the ÖBAG appointment, Kurz, under an obligation to speak the truth, categorically denied any involvement. Yet, according to the WKStA - the public prosecutor's office specializing in corruption - evidence indicated otherwise.

On August 18, an indictment was filed, suggesting that the ex-chancellor might not have been as candid as he claimed. Kurz, maintaining his innocence, retorted, “The accusations are false, and we look forward to when the truth finally comes to light, and the accusations also prove to be baseless in court”.

Restoring Faith in Austria's Institutions

The looming trial promises more than just legal proceedings; it holds the potential to shape Austria's political narrative. Opposition parties see it as an opportunity to restore public faith in the nation's institutions, which have been marred by corruption allegations.

A spokesperson for the liberal NEOS party captured this sentiment, saying, “Through a speedy process, we can restore confidence in politics”.