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Austria’s Kurz joins list of EU leaders tainted by corruption claims

Several leaders forced out in last decade for offenses including illicit real estate deals, interfering in a murder investigation and having a mistress misuse military intelligence

In this June 23, 2016 file photo, a worker on a lift adjusts the EU flags in front of EU headquarters in Brussels. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)
In this June 23, 2016 file photo, a worker on a lift adjusts the EU flags in front of EU headquarters in Brussels. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)

PARIS — Austria’s outgoing chancellor Sebastian Kurz joins other European leaders who have had to resign over corruption claims during the past 10 years. Here is a recap.

Estonia

On January 13, 2021, Estonia’s prime minister Juri Ratas stepped down after a corruption investigation was launched into his Centre Party over ties with a property firm.

Malta

Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat resigned on December 1, 2019, after daily demonstrations over accusations that he interfered to protect associates in an investigation into the 2017 murder of anti-corruption blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Muscat’s chief of staff Keith Schembri, a childhood friend, was convicted of corruption in relation to the case.

Slovakia

In February 2018, the double murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee, who had been probing alleged ties between top politicians and the Italian mafia, plunged Slovakia into a political crisis.

Prime minister Robert Fico resigned in March after the public backlash over the killings, followed a month later by the interior minister and the police chief.

Romania

A deadly nightclub blaze drew tens of thousands of protesters into the streets in Bucharest in October 2015, forcing Social Democrat prime minister Victor Ponta to resign.

In May 2018, Ponta was cleared of fraud and other charges by the country’s high court after a corruption investigation.

Czech Republic

In June 2013, center-right prime minister Petr Necas was forced to resign after being implicated in a corruption and abuse of power scandal involving his top aide and mistress. Prosecutors have said they will not file charges.

The mistress, now his wife, was given a suspended prison sentence for illicit use of military intelligence to spy on Necas’s wife in the hope of speeding the divorce.

Benjamin Netanyahu, left, meeting Petr Necas in Prague in May. (photo credit: Petr David Josek/AP)
Benjamin Netanyahu, left, meeting Petr Necas in Prague in May. (photo credit: Petr David Josek/AP)

Germany

Germany’s leaders have come under close scrutiny since former chancellor Helmut Kohl was fined and forced to quit his post as honorary chairman of the Christian Democratic Union, after he admitted to managing secret funds for the party in the 1990s.

Christian Wulff resigned as German president in February 2012 following an accusation of influence peddling. He was later cleared of accepting payments that amounted to some 700 euros ($744) when he was state premier of Lower Saxony.

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