Six months after the “Ibizagate” corruption scandal drove Austria’s far-right party from government, three suspects have been arrested over alleged extortion, prosecutors said.
It marked the first arrests in the inquiry into the scandal involving the now ex-head of the Freedom Party (FPOe) who was seen on a video tape apparently offering public contracts in return for campaign help from a woman he was led to believe was the niece of a Russian oligarch, suggesting to her that she could take control of Austria’s biggest tabloid.
Two German newspapers in May published extracts from sensational hidden camera footage recorded in 2017 on the Spanish holiday island of Ibiza.
The Vienna prosecutor did not reveal the identities of the three suspects but according to the Austrian press, two men and a woman are suspected of alleged extortion of some 400,000 euros. Their aim was to demand this sum from Strache for promising to not distribute the scandalous video.
The three suspects were involved with a private detective considered by investigators to be the “mastermind” behind the affair. The suspects are now being held in provisional detention, two of them suspected of having recruited the “bait”, and then equipped the rented villa in Ibiza with cameras.
Investigators are still trying to identify the woman in the video who is not completely seen on the tape.
The authors of this entrapment tried for nearly two years to make money with the video before it was released.