Advertisements: Trials against Strauch, Fellner and Kiggle – Politics –


WKStA is investigating the advertising case against Strauch and Gicl, among others
©APA/ROBERT JAEGER

The WKStA has been investigating former FPÖ leader and vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache and former blue ministers Herbert Kickl, Norbert Hofer, Mario Kunasek and Beate Hartinger-Klein since mid-April on suspicion of ad fraud. Wolfgang Fellner, then managing director of the Austrian media group, is also listed as a suspect. This is evident from the documents available to APA. WKStA confirmed the investigation in a broadcast.

It wasn't until early April that chats became public showing that Strauch had multiple interactions with Fellner in 2019. For example, Ewald Stadler, a former FPÖ politician who testified that he hated the FPÖ and threatened to stop advertising, complained about Fellner appearing in the media. Strauch wrote that Stadler's invitation was “a most unfriendly act to us.” Fellner did not respond directly, but later reports showed that Strauch was successful at his intervention. Stadler was replaced by FPÖ veteran Andreas Molzer. “At your request, I promised to replace Stadler with Molzer, which I did immediately—but of course only if he was there,” Fellner wrote to Strachey. Soon after, Strauch wrote in an internal FPÖ chat group: “Please keep contacting Fellner. We've sorted it out! He's coming at us.”

The Economic and Corruption State Prosecutor's Office (WKStA) apparently did not want to open an investigation on this basis, because the chats were too vague and “oe24” and Co. Advertising costs have not increased significantly. However, the Vienna State Prosecutor's Office (OStA) said the case should be opened “immediately” to prevent it from being barred by law. Investigations include bribery, kickbacks and breach of trust. As WKStA reported on Monday, against Strauch and Fellner on suspicion of bribery or corruption, and against the former Blue Cabinet on suspicion of treason.

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In an initial reaction to the APA, the FPÖ again saw a “deep state” within the judiciary and specifically blamed the management of the Vienna Public Prosecutor's Office. Generally, advertising contracts were awarded exclusively to the media for objective reasons. “The FPÖ is silent on this investigation and is 100 percent certain that it will be closed,” it said. The only goal is to harm the FPÖ.

Fellner told the “Standard” that he was “certainly not responsible” for Strache's text message. The allegation of ad corruption is ridiculous, he is not responsible for ad sales and has always reported critically about the FPÖ.

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