By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
VIENNA/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Austria’s disgraced ex-chancellor Sebastian Kurz faced a tough weekend after being charged with making false statements to a parliamentary inquiry into alleged corruption in his first government.
Kurz, who was the world’s youngest leader and viewed as a rising political star, was eventually forced to resign following a series of scandals within his government.
An indictment against Kurz, his former chief of staff, Bernhard Bonelli, and another unidentified person was filed at the state court in Vienna, said the prosecutor’s office that investigates corruption cases. The court announced that Kurz will go on trial on Oct. 18.
The charges result from an investigation launched in 2021 when Kurz was still chancellor.
The allegations relate to answers Kurz gave
to a parliamentary probe that focused on alleged corruption in the first coalition, he led from 2017, when his conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) formed a government with the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) until its collapse in 2019.
Kurz pulled the plug on that government after a video surfaced showing the vice chancellor and Freedom Party leader at the time, Heinz-Christian Strache, appearing to offer favors to a purported Russian investor.
In the corruption case, Kurz is accused of giving false evidence in June 2020 regarding his role in setting up a holding company, Öbag. The company administers the state’s role in some companies and the appointment of its leadership
During hearings in 2020 and 2021, he allegedly downplayed his role in appointing Öbag’s head.
Evidence from chat messages later suggested he was significantly more involved in the process than he had suggested. Kurz was informed in 2021, while still in power, that he was suspected of providing false testimony, according to investigators.
He has denied wrongdoing calling the charges “groundless.”
So, “We look forward to the truth finally coming to light and the accusations proving to be unfounded in court,” Kurz wrote on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
The scandals overshadowed the political career of Kurz, who in May 2017 led his party to victory in elections later that year – becoming, at the age of 31, one of the world’s youngest-ever democratically elected heads of government.
After being pressured out of office by an increasingly upset electorate, he has worked as a global strategist for tech investor Thiel Capital.
A few weeks after he quit as chancellor, Kurz announced that he was leaving politics altogether. Karl Nehammer then became chancellor and leader of the ÖVP.
However, Austria’s next national election is due next year, and recent polls have shown less support for ÖVP, with the far-right Freedom Party in the lead in the Alpine nation.
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