The Austrian anti-corruption prosecutors’ office has said that Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and nine others have been placed under investigation on suspicion of bribery and breach of trust, following a raid on several properties.

On Wednesday, anti-corruption prosecutors said that Kurz, members of his party, and several top aides had been put under investigation. The chancellor is one of ten being investigated on suspicion of breach of trust, corruption, and bribery. 

According to Austrian media, the prosecutors suspect that the Finance Ministry and Kurz’s conservative People’s Party (OVP) bribed newspaper owner Wolfgang Fellner to positively portray the chancellor in his firm’s publications.  

In its statement on Wednesday, the public prosecutor’s office alleged that between 2016 and at least 2018, funds from the Ministry of Finance were used to pay for “party politically motivated and sometimes manipulated surveys” by a polling institute. It also noted that these results were published in the editorial section of an Austrian daily newspaper and other media within the same group.  

Mediengruppe Osterreich, Fellner’s publishing house, has already dismissed the accusations, claiming the investigations were based on “grave misunderstandings.”

Earlier on Wednesday, the prosecutors raided the offices of Kurz’s conservative party and two federal ministers, as well as several homes. The evidence found in the course of the searches will now be reviewed and evaluated, investigators said.

There had recently been talk that such searches were likely. OVP deputy general-secretary Gaby Schwarz said last week that “there will be raids,” and “I’m telling you, nothing will be found.”

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