Former Austrian chancellor and former chairman of the Austrian People’s Party (German: Österreichische Volkspartei, ÖVP) Sebastian Kurz faces up to three years in prison on charges of perjury, the Austrian prosecutor’s office for economics and corruption said.
“Sebastian Kurz and Bernhard Bonelli… are charged with perjury as defendants before the Investigative Committee of the National Council… in particular, in connection with an interrogation about the creation of ÖBAG and the composition of the board and supervisory board of this company,” the agency said in a release. A third defendant in this case is also mentioned.
“The punishment for the alleged crime is up to three years in prison,” the prosecutor’s office added. According to Austrian media, court hearings will begin in October.
Prosecutors accuse Kurz of making false statements in June 2020, when he was questioned as a defendant in the Ibiza Commission of Inquiry.
Kurtz himself on Friday wrote in his account in X (formerly Twitter) that he had learned from journalists about the impending criminal prosecution.
“We are not surprised that the prosecutor’s office nevertheless decided to initiate a criminal case, despite the exculpatory testimony of 30 witnesses. The accusations are false, and we look forward to when the truth will finally be revealed and their groundlessness will be proven in court,” wrote Kurtz.
In October 2021, Kurz resigned as Chancellor of Austria amid an anti-corruption investigation, and in December announced his final retirement from politics. He was succeeded by Karl Nehammer.
Earlier it was reported that Kurz is suspected of giving false testimony to the commission of inquiry “Ibiza” at the Austrian prosecutor’s office. Since the end of May 2019, the commission has been trying to identify the authors and customers of the scandalous video recording with the participation of the former vice-chancellor of Austria, Heinz-Christian Strache, the publication of which caused a political scandal in the republic and led to the collapse of the government. The prosecutor’s office is also investigating the former head of Kurz’s cabinet, his “right hand” Bernhard Bonelli.
In mid-May 2019, the largest German media published a scandalous video featuring the former Vice-Chancellor and ex-leader of the Austrian Freedom Party Strache. The publications claimed that in a video taken on the island of Ibiza, an Austrian politician allegedly discussed the possibility of buying media assets to influence the 2017 elections with a certain “Russian woman”, who, judging by media reports, turned out to be a Bosnian student who received a fee for her role . The publication led to an internal political crisis in Austria: the resignation of Strache was followed by the resignation of the entire government of the country, headed by Chancellor Kurz.