Vorarlberg’s governor, Markus Wallner (ÖVP), is seeing the allegations against him in business association and advertising collapse.
Wallner said at ORF on Sunday “at press time” that his personal review of the files was a few days old. “I know a person has been questioned and I can say the allegations are crumbling.” The trust destroyed by the chat relationship must be regained with transparency.
Wallner was accused anonymously by companies
In mid-October, it was revealed that the Economic Affairs and Corruption Public Prosecutor’s Office (WKStA) now knew the identity of the entrepreneur who anonymously accused Wallner. In April, the manager, in an affidavit to “Vorarlberger Nachrichten”, declared that Wallner had offered reviews for ads in the now-defunct Wirtschaftsbund (“Vorarlberger Wirtschaft”): Wallner had “openly deposited money” during his visit to the company “Wirtschaftsbund-Zeitung In May, it was learned that WKStA was investigating the state governor (and others) for allegedly accepting assistance under Section 305 of the Penal Code.
Wallner denied the allegations in the ad incident
The governor vehemently denied the allegations at the time and spoke of “an outright lie” in a recent APA interview. The governor of Vorarlberg reiterated his stance at “Press Hour” on Sunday: “I said it was a flagrant lie, and I’m sticking with it.” While he didn’t want to comment on the WKStA’s work from the outside, “I don’t think any of the claims have been substantiated”.
Wallner, who took a break due to illness on June 22 after the allegations emerged, and returned to duty only in September, said that the claims had something to do with the withdrawal. One constantly hears doubts – but it’s because of foreign accusations. “Everything is not funny, there is not a single piece of evidence.” He said an inspection of the files over the past few days confirmed his location, without going into details – because he’s “not one of those quoting any investigative files”.
According to Wallner, conclusions are drawn after tax payments
Regarding the reason for the Wirtschaftsbund Vorarlberg (just over 770,000 euros for the years 2016 to 2021) paying unpaid taxes, Wallner said that “when the retroactive tax payment flows into the house, it creates a very bad picture.” But the conclusions were drawn, he cited the resignations of Wirtschaftsbund director Jürgen Kessler and Wirtschaftsbund chairman Hans Peter Metzler. He took the responsibility himself (together with former vice-governor Karlheinz Rüdisser) as long as he ensured the appointment of an interim president. When asked about other possible personal implications, he said, “But you’ll understand: I didn’t have a direct idea of the finances of the collaboration.”
Chat with Thomas Schmid
Wallner defended his famous conversation with former Treasury Secretary Thomas Schmid, in which the governor asked about additional tax payments from state energy supplier Illwerke/VKW: “It was never about a personal interest” but always about the interests of the state of Vorarlberg.
“The exterior is not good,” said Wallner of the federal ÖVP and the chat event as a whole. It’s good that ÖVP boss and Chancellor Karl Nehammer publicly apologized in early November. Stating that there is no room for corruption in Austria, Nehammer said, “I share this view 100 percent.” The answer can only be more transparency. If you want to regain the public’s trust, you must rely on transparency. Asked whether official secrecy should be declassified, Wallner replied, “I think you can do that, yes.” Regarding the ÖVP being investigated for corruption, he said “it is an image that needs to be corrected”. The correct answers are “rules, compliance, transparency”.
Wallner believes it was right to expel Schmid from the party
Wallner believes that Schmid’s recent expulsion from the party is correct, albeit too late. “For me it was right to draw the line. It’s not just about whether any criminal law framework has been breached.” You should also look at how we deal with each other, the “value catalog”, basic attitude and compatibility.
Asylum: Wallner doesn’t see tents as suitable accommodation
Wallner emphasized that he does not see tents as a suitable place for refugee accommodation: “Not a single refugee will live in tents in Vorarlberg.” In any case, he promised that he wanted to significantly improve the rate of accommodation in the country.
In a broadcast, General Secretary Michael Schnedlitz criticized Wallner’s words: “It has been shown once again that morally neglected behavior is deeply rooted in the ÖVP’s DNA and that this party lacks the necessary self-cleaning power.” “Wallner has once again played the innocent lamb, and remorse and insight still seem like foreign words for the governor of Vorarlberg.”