Sunday

24th Sep 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

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.

Confusion reigns over MEP cash-for-amendments probe

The European Parliament is continuing to deny EU anti-fraud investigators access to its buildings, while the office of a fourth MEP implicated in the ongoing cash-for-amendments scandal remained open on Monday.

MEPs earn millions on the side

Over half of the MEPs have activities outside the European Parliament, earning between €5.8 and €18.3 million on top of their regular salaries, according to a database pooling their declarations of financial interests.

Hungary and Poland defy EU authority

Hungary and Poland have said they "don't want a mixed population", amid a tug-of-war with the Commission on migrants and rule of law.

EU agency to fight election hacking

A new-model EU cybersecurity agency could help states defend their elections against "hybrid attacks", the Commission has said.

EU monitoring Cyprus passport sales

The European Commission has said it is in a "dialogue" with Cyprus amid concerns on loopholes in its passport sale scheme.

EU monitoring Cyprus passport sales

The European Commission has said it is in a "dialogue" with Cyprus amid concerns on loopholes in its passport sale scheme.

News in Brief

  1. EU to hail 'aspirations' of former Soviet states
  2. UK says credit downgrade was wrong
  3. Dutch state appeals ban on taking air-polluting measures
  4. May proposes 2-year transition period after Brexit
  5. May to call on EU's 'sense of responsibility'
  6. Catalonia has 'contingency plans' for independence vote
  7. Last German polls confirm Merkel's lead
  8. EU to step up sanctions on North Korea

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEEU Finance Ministers Agreed to Develop New Digital Taxation Rules
  2. Mission of China to the EUGermany Stands Ready to Deepen Cooperation With China
  3. World VisionFirst Ever Young People Consultation to Discuss the Much Needed Peace in Europe
  4. European Jewish CongressGermany First Country to Adopt Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  6. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  7. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  10. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  11. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  12. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel