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Austrian Chancellor looking to disprove corruption allegations

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz will step down from his post in a bid to defuse a government crisis triggered by allegations of corruption.

The move has satisfied his coalition partners, the Greens, who were on the brink of backing a motion of no-confidence in Mr Kurz that could have forced him out of power.

The corruption allegations relate to the period between 2016 and 2018 when finance ministry funds were suspected to have been used to manipulate opinion polls in favour of Mr Kurz’s conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) that were then published in a newspaper.

Following raids at the chancellery, the finance ministry and homes and offices of senior aides to the Chancellor, Mr Kurz and nine colleagues have been investigated on suspicion of breach of trust, corruption and bribery.

However, Mr Kurz insists that the corruption allegations against him were “wrong” and denied that he had used government money for political purposes.

He has resigned to maintain stability but says he will remain leader of the ÖVP and continue to sit in parliament. Mt Kurz said that “first and foremost”, he will use the opportunity to disprove the allegations against him.

Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “Allegations of financial wrongdoing are always serious but when they are levelled at serving politicians, they take on an extra dimension.  Often those accused claim that the accusations they face are politically motivated.

“That is why forensic accountants instructed in relation to high-profile cases, have to be particularly careful to focus on the evidence and avoid being distracted by anything that falls outside their areas of experience and expertise.  It is surprising how often, lawyers who should know better ask the expert witnesses whom they instruct to comment on issues that are not matters of accountancy.  Those who inadvertently acquiesce tend to find themselves in hot water when subjected to cross-examination.”

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