On Thursday, the ÖVP Corruption U committee was dominated by a debate about the processing of NPO funds, in other words the money intended for non-profit organizations to mitigate the consequences of the corona virus. Although political parties were excluded from this, some of them also went to ÖVP organizations. When questioning two officials, the party also tried to blame the SPÖ – with moderate success.
To date, 2,100 claims have been filed with a total volume of €18 million, which corresponds to a 2.4 percent share of all applications, said the official interviewed in the morning. One of these concerns the Tyrolean ÖVP young farmers, who would have to repay 800,000 euros in corona aid received because the ministry assigns them to the Tiroler Boerenbond, a sub-organization of the ÖVP Tyrol. However, political parties are excluded from funding.
“Complex” audit of clubs
The official explained that the in-depth investigations, including the Senior Citizens’ Association in Upper Austria or the Tyrolean Young Farmers’ Association, were prompted by a NEOS parliamentary request. In many cases, however, the investigation is not yet completed because it is “more complex” – as with the senior citizens’ associations. Most repayment terms are still open, including those of the young farmers.
This expires in mid-October. If the organization does not pay back the money by then, there will be two more reminders with further deadlines before the recovery is transferred to the Finanzprokuratur. He would then eventually have to take legal action, the official explains.
Unlike, for example, the Tyrolean Young Farmers’ Union, the Vorarlberg Young Farmers are legally separated from the Farmers’ Union and thus from the ÖVP, the official explained. Therefore, in this case, there was no refund.
However, for ÖVP faction leader Hanger, the legal issue is still unresolved in the case of the Tyrolean young farmers, whether they are party or close to the party, as he repeatedly emphasized.
Hanger criticizes vice chancellor
Hanger was dissatisfied with the coalition partner, especially Vice Chancellor Kogler: “I expected him (Kogler, note) to provide objective clarification of the facts and eliminate political bias,” Hanger stressed. He also complained that a case was being investigated in which the children’s friends were not. Because these are clearly part of the SPÖ, Hanger believes, even SPÖ boss Pamela Rendi-Wagner emphasized this at the party congress. As proof, the ÖVP videotaped the course of the party conference.
No indication of party affinity of childhood friends
However, the investigating judge did not allow specific questions about the Kinderfreunde because these were not the subject of the investigation, but general questions about the examination structure did. The official, who claims to be a member of the SPÖ, has nevertheless commented on this. The children’s friends were already the subject of a parliamentary investigation into party-related organizations.
However, no indication was found in the statutes of the SPÖ or in those of the children’s friends that they were a party. However, all state statutes of the SPÖ and the state children’s organizations will also be examined.
The second official also sees no bias
The department head of the Ministry of Culture and Sports, Alexander Klingenbrunner, who was invited afterwards, also confirmed what had been said so far. He contributed to the NPO financing from the start and was primarily responsible for the legal side. A dependency or bias would never have occurred to him.
The complexity of the cases to be investigated varies widely, but there were no political implications. He also has no insight into any interventions. His interrogation ended in the early afternoon, also because his answers largely overlapped with those of the informant in the morning.