Ex-minister found guilty in Austrian government contract graft

The Local/AFP
The Local/AFP - [email protected]
Ex-minister found guilty in Austrian government contract graft
Former Austrian Family Minister Sophie Karmasin (© Parlamentsdirektion / Thomas Topf)

Former Austrian minister Sophie Karmasin was on Tuesday handed a 15-month suspended jail sentence over illegal deals restricting competition for government contracts, a Vienna court spokesman told AFP.


The case is one of many stemming from Austria's Ibizagate scandal, which triggered a sprawling investigation by anti-corruption prosecutors and led to conservative Sebastian Kurz stepping down as chancellor in 2021.

Karmasin, who was family minister from 2013 to 2017 before Kurz came to power, was found guilty of manipulating competitors to secure government contracts to carry out studies for the sports ministry, court spokesman Christoph Zonsics-Kral said.

The suspended jail term was made conditional for a probationary period of three years.

Fifty-six-year-old Karmasin was acquitted of allegedly defrauding the state of tens of thousands of euros by receiving payments after having left the ministry.

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A senior sports ministry official also incriminated in the case was acquitted of his alleged involvement in collusion to win government contracts.

The prosecution as well as the defence, which pleaded not guilty, have three days to appeal the sentences.

In 2019, Ibizagate brought down the coalition between the FPOe and Kurz's centre-right People's Party (OeVP).


The scandal broke when video footage emerged of former FPOe leader Strache promising public contracts to a woman posing as a Russian oligarch's niece in exchange for election campaign support. The video, which was secretly filmed on the Spanish resort island of Ibiza, led to wide-ranging corruption inquiries and accusations against other prominent politicians.

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In October 2021, prosecutors ordered raids at the chancellery and the finance ministry while investigating allegations that Kurz's inner circle used public money to pay for polls, which were skewed to boost his image.

The OeVP remains in power, currently governing with the Greens.


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