Pollster arrested in Austria corruption scandal: reports
Austrian authorities on Tuesday made a first arrest in a corruption probe that toppled chancellor Sebastian Kurz, local media reported, holding a woman for allegedly destroying evidence.
One of a series of scandals that dogged Kurz’s two successive governments, the latest affair revolves around partially faked opinion polls paid for with taxpayer money and fed to a tabloid to paint Kurz in a favourable light.
The woman arrested Tuesday is a pollster who authorities said last week was under investigation for corruption.
She is suspected of having deleted data from the hard disk of her computer just before a raid, daily Der Standard reported.
Prosecutors declined comment to AFP, citing “ongoing investigations”.
Last Wednesday prosecutors raided several locations linked to the ruling People’s Party (OeVP) over allegations that between 2016 and 2018 money from the finance ministry was used to pay for surveys.
Prosecutors say that Kurz and nine other individuals, including the pollster, as well as three organisations, are under investigation over the affair.
They allege that payments were made to a media company — presumably tabloid Oesterreich, which was also raided — in return for publishing the polls.
Kurz has maintained he is innocent, calling all accusations against him “false”.
The group that runs the Oesterreich tabloid also put out a statement denying anything untoward in the commissioning or publication of its surveys.
Kurz — who became the world’s youngest democratically elected leader in 2017 at age 31 — stepped down as chancellor on Saturday, naming his close ally Alexander Schallenberg as successor.
Schallenberg was sworn in as chancellor on Monday as the OeVP tries to overcome the corruption probe.