Strasser accounts to be opened

Anti-corruption investigators have asked to check the bank accounts of a former member of the European Parliament (MEP), according to a report.Business magazine Format reported yesterday (Mon) that state prosecutors asked the Criminal Court in Vienna for permission to search the accounts of Ernst Strasser. The former interior minister resigned as MEP recently amid accusations that he was willing to enforce European Union (EU) law reforms for money.Strasser, who was exposed by an undercover investigation by the Sunday Times, denied any wrong-doings. The ex-People’s Party (ÖVP) official claimed he wanted to expose illicit companies and their attempts to bribe MEPs.Reports that his bank accounts may be scrutinised as part of the investigations come days after prosecutors searched several houses in Austria in the matter.The issue also increased the pressure on ÖVP chief Josef Pröll who was widely criticised for picking Strasser to head the party’s delegation in the European Parliament (EP) in Strasbourg, France, although Othmar Karas garnered significantly more preference votes in the election in 2009. Pröll is currently not appearing in public as he is undergoing therapy after suffering from pulmonary embolism.ÖVP General Secretary Fritz Kaltenegger was confronted by party-internal attacks as well. He is accused of portraying the lobbying-for-money accusations against Strasser as a cockfight between the ex-interior minister and Karas. A string of influential ÖVP officials criticised Kaltenegger for failing to clearly disassociate himself from Strasser early on.