Graft Reaches Austria’s Chancellor

Austria News Briefs

The public prosecutor is investigating Chancellor Werner Faymann (SPÖ) for allegedly commissioning advertisements for state-owned industries in the tabloid press in exchange for favourable coverage during his time as Minister of Transport in 2007 and 2008.

While the allegations first appeared in 2009, they gained new salience this Sept. when Oberösterreichische Nachrichten (OÖN) published a fax from the public relations department of the Austrian National Rail (ÖBB) dating from 2007 referring to a €500,000 advertising contract with Kronen Zeitung “as agreed by Minister Faymann.”

Faymann has denied the charges, stating that discussing the PR strategies of state-owned industries was part of his job, but that “the final decisions were always taken by the company,” Austrian news agency APA reported.

The charges of abuse of office and embezzlement, brought by the Freedom Party (FPÖ), come at a sensitive time, as they extend current allegations of corruption initially confined to the People’s Party (ÖVP), FPÖ, and Union for Austria’s Future (BZÖ), to the SPÖ as well.


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