VIENNA: Austrian prosecutors raided the offices of the ruling party on Wednesday over claims that government money was used in a corrupt deal to ensure positive coverage in a tabloid newspaper.

People’s Party (OeVP) deputy general secretary Gabriela Schwarz said the raids were “for show” and that “accusations were constructed over events that date back as far as five years”, though she gave no further detail of the claims.

Austrian media outlets reported that raids also took place in the chancellery and targeted several employees of OeVP Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

According to Austria’s Oe1 public broadcaster, the warrant for Wednesday’s raids alleges that finance ministry funds were used to pay for opinion polls that were favourable to Kurz.

The polls were then published in the Oesterreich tabloid, allegedly in return for lucrative government adverts.

Kurz is suspected of being an accessory to the offences, according to the leaked warrant.

The media group that runs Oesterreich put out a statement denying that any wrongdoing had been committed in the commissioning or publication of its surveys.

OeVP Finance Minister Gernot Bluemel said there had been a raid at his ministry but said it did not concern him personally or his time in office.

The latest allegations may put fresh strain on the OeVP’s coalition with the Green party, which has already come under pressure from the fallout from an earlier scandal.

The 2019 “Ibiza-gate” affair led to the spectacular collapse of Kurz’s previous government, a coalition with the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe).

After ex-FPOe chief Heinz-Christian Strache was caught on camera appearing to offer public contracts in exchange for campaign help for the FPOe, investigators launched sprawling corruption inquiries.


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