Friday

9th Dec 2016

Former MEP on trial in cash-for-amendments scandal

Former Austrian MEP Ernst Strasser went on trial on Monday (26 November) in Vienna charged with accepting bribes from British reporters posing as lobbyists.

The Sunday Times last year exposed Strasser and three other MEPs as willing to bend EU legislation in the interest of the fake lobbyists' clients. Strasser claimed €100,000 a year for these services, Austrian prosecutor Alexandra Maruna said.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Ernst Strasser says he figured out the lobbyists were not for real (Photo: Martin Ehrenhauser)

Even if Strasser did not actually receive any of that money, what mattered was that he offered his vote for money, she said.

"He massively harmed European politics," Maruna told the court.

Strasser, who also served as Austrian interior minister between 2000-2004, denied any wrongdoing and said he knew the two journalists were not real lobbyists.

He went to expensive dinners and played along in order to expose them as spies from a foreign country, presumably the US, he said.

When the judge asked him why he did not tell police about his suspicions, Strasser replied that his experience as interior minister taught him not to trust them.

His lawyer Thomas Karlik did not dispute that Strasser asked journalists to pay him €100,000, but said this is what "thousands of people do daily in Austria, Brussels and worldwide: making contacts and offering to use them."

In transcripts of Strasser's discussions with the Sunday Times journalists, published in Der Standard, he said that "most MEPs are as lazy as I am" and boasted of having five other such customers who pay him on the side.

He faces up to 10 years in jail if found guilty. The verdict is expected on 13 December.

News in Brief

  1. Council of Europe critical of Turkey emergency laws
  2. Italian opposition presses for anti-euro referendum
  3. Danish MP wants warning shots fired to deter migrants
  4. Defected Turkish officers to remain in Greece
  5. Most child asylum seekers are adults, says Denmark
  6. No school for children of 'illegal' migrants, says Le Pen
  7. Ombudsman slams EU Commission on tobacco lobbying
  8. McDonald's moves fiscal HQ to UK following tax probe

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Use Bioenergy Coming From Forests in a Sustainable Way?
  2. Counter BalanceReport Reveals Corrupt but Legal Practices in Development Finance
  3. Swedish EnterprisesMEPs and Business Representatives Debated on the Future of the EU at the Winter Mingle
  4. ACCASets Out Fifty Key Factors in the Public Sector Accountants Need to Prepare for
  5. UNICEFSchool “as Vital as Food and Medicine” for Children Caught up in Conflict
  6. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  7. CESICongress Re-elects Klaus Heeger & Romain Wolff as Secretary General & President
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  9. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  10. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  11. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  12. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First