Austrian Ex-Interior Minister Gets 4 Years for Corruption

Austria’s former Interior Minister was sentenced to four years prison after a jury today found him guilty of corruption and influence peddling, according to a spokeswoman from Vienna’s criminal court.

Ernst Strasser, who resigned his post as an Austrian member of the European Parliament in March 2011, has a month to appeal the verdict, Christina Salzborn, a court spokeswoman, said in a phone interview.

Journalists from London’s Sunday Times in March 2011 published a film of Strasser, then a member of Austria’s ruling People’s Party, offering to influence European legislation in exchange for a 100,000-euro ($133,650) fee. Strasser argued in court that he suspected that the reporters, Claire Newell and Jonathan Calvert, were spies and that he wanted to expose them, the Austrian Press Agency reported.

Strasser’s lawyer Thomas Kralik didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Austria was criticized by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development for lax bribery investigations and bank rules in a report released earlier this month. The country hadn’t convicted one of its citizens of foreign bribery since ratifying the Anti-Bribery Convention in 1999, the OECD said.

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