News from the Ibiza Committee of Inquiry

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News from the Ibiza Committee of Inquiry

After the Ibiza Committee of Inquiry was exposed to the contempt of primarily young politicians and dignitaries in the summer, it is now increasingly concerned with gambling again. In order to get to the bottom of the questions about the alleged purchase of the law “for” the gaming industry in times of the turquoise-blue government, the Novomatic manager Alexander Legat and the chairman of the supervisory board Bernd Oswald were invited. Also there is a certain Peter B., who is said to be a former business partner of Novomatic AG. The focus is on the all-important question of whether the gambling company wanted and was able to influence the legislation of the governing parties. The accusation, which is at the center, revolves around the FPÖ’s promise of advantageous gaming legislation towards Novomatic, provided that the group supports Peter Sidlo’s appointment to the Casinos Austria AG board in return.

New official notice indicates false statement by Glatz-Kremsner

Outraged, the General Director of Casinos Austria AG (CASAG), Bettina Glatz-Kremsner, refuses to accept the charge of having made a false statement before the investigative committee. “It is clear from the context of the survey that the relevant questions after a conversation between Glatz-Kremsner and Heinz-Christian Strache about Peter Sidlo were about possible agreements and background deals. Glatz-Kremsner has truthfully denied such discussions, ”says an official CASAG statement. In addition, it is emphasized that the addressed correspondence relates to a “positive and constructive interaction with Peter Sidlo”. After all, Sidlo would have been a new colleague on the Board of Management, which is why Ms. Glatz-Kremsner naturally had a great interest in promoting “good cooperation in the interests of the company”. The CASAG Director General had already made such a declaration during her initial statement to the U Committee. Now a new official memo appeared in which an SMS from Heinz-Christian Strache to Bettina Glatz-Kremsner dated January 2019 is quoted: “Hello dear Bettina! Hope you are well. Regarding Peter Sidlo, everything is on track! thanks for your support! Lg HC. “The General Director’s answer was as follows:” Dear Heinz, I am delighted and I am very happy to support you and out of conviction! Greetings and all the best for your family happiness – Bettina. ”

The NEOS currently want to check whether there is a report due to false statements. The leader of the NEOS faction, Stephanie Krisper, admits, however, that this official note is not yet available to the U-Committee, but would be expected with the “next delivery”. The MP will then “check for contradictions” on this document, just as she has done in other cases. Kai Jan Krainer is parliamentary group leader of the SPÖ. He hopes that the chairman of the committee, President of the National Council, Wolfgang Sobotka of the ÖVP, will take action in this matter. Christian Hafenecker from the Freedom Party is concerned with the question of whether Bettina Glatz-Kremsner “… could actually have been listed as a suspect at the time of her interrogation.”

Kurz sees himself as a guest in front of the U committee

Just a few weeks ago, a large German weekly newspaper had the headline “A maximum of self-harm to the political system”. What was meant by this was the contempt that Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and several other high-ranking politicians publicly showed the Ibiza committee of inquiry. The ÖVP Chancellor was of the opinion that he had been summoned to the U-Committee as a “guest” and not as an information person. Others did the same. This provides an extremely problematic insight into the attitude of “top-ranking visitors” to a parliamentary investigation into the Ibiza affair. And that, although in addition to the FPÖ, the ÖVP also plays a major role in the investigation into alleged buyability. In contrast to earlier attempts to clear up questionable government decisions, the existing weaknesses come ever more to the fore. Such a provocative disinterest has never been shown by informants from a ruling party in front of a parliamentary committee, nor have they received such friendly support from the relevant host – in this case from the National Council President personally. Presumably, his popularity ratings went a bit to the head of the current Austrian Chancellor. There is hardly any other explanation for the fact that he did not even make a little effort to “hide his disdain”. This applies to his first “visit” before the U-Committee as an informant, a second, in which he is summoned as a witness, is still pending. His demeanor was by no means surprising. After all, he also has a rather casual dealings with other institutions, such as the Constitutional Court.

A mixture of memory gaps

Finance Minister Gernot Blümel seemed to want to be in no way inferior to Chancellor Kurz. He behaved in the same way, which even Wolfgang Sobotka found provocative. In the questioning, Blümel pointed to a memory gap that was extremely large. So big that it offers “… cause for concern about his cognitive abilities at this age” or at least throws an equally worrying light on “his attitude to lies”.

One can certainly say that the parliamentary committee of inquiry has already brought some things to light out of the dark swamp of law enforcement, post haggling and party financing. Some findings were made known by chance, such as the planning to “privatize the Federal Computing Center” or the increase in a financing fund for private hospitals, from which an ÖVP-affiliated insurance company also benefited, as did a friend of Heinz-Christian Strache. “I believe that the media public alone is probably not enough to authentically inform the public about what has happened in a committee of inquiry”, Ilse Huber put on record.

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