September 5, 2011 / 11:56 AM / 8 years ago

Ex-chancellor quits as MP amid Telekom Austria probe

VIENNA, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Former Austrian chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel said on Monday he would resign his seat in parliament amid a widening corruption scandal centred on Telekom Austria .

His resignation takes effect at the end of the week and follows extensive Austrian media reports about supposed slush fund payments to politicians and lobbyists during his time as chancellor.

The former head of the conservative People’s Party (OVP), which now governs in a coalition with Social Democrats, told a hastily summoned news conference he did not acknowledge any wrongdoing but that an independent investigation into corruption allegations had to be free of any political influence.

“It is factually unjust and irresponsibile to link the OVP to the accusations that have arisen,” he said.

Telekom Austria, in which the state has a 28 perent stake, commissioned an independent panel on Friday to look into allegations of improper payments and compliance shortfalls. It is due to issue its report next year.

Schuessel, 66, was chancellor from 2000 until 2007 under OVP coalitions with right-wing parties. He has been a regular member of parliament since 2008. (Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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