“In the advertisement affair, the recently arrested person no longer has the reasons for detention assumed at the time of arrest,” said a WKStA spokesman. That is why the WKStA did not file an application for custody before the 48-hour period had expired.
When asked whether the WKStA had taken any further investigative steps since the arrest, the spokesman said that at this stage of the investigation the investigations had not come to a standstill, “but no further coercive measures were taken”.
Beinschab was arrested Tuesday morning at her home address because of the risk of blackout, with the arrest order approved by a judge. Subsequently, according to information from the APA, which has not been officially confirmed, she was heard at the Federal Office for the Prevention and Fight against Corruption (BAK).
The fact that, prior to the release from liability, hardly any or no reliable information for questioning was leaked to the outside, fueled speculation in legal circles that Beinschab could possibly have accepted the leniency program and give comprehensive testimony. However, there is still no evidence in this direction.
Data deleted “on a larger scale”?
Beinschab is suspected of having worked with her colleague and ex-ÖVP minister Sophie Karmasin to have done well-designed surveys for the daily newspaper “Austria”, which are said to have benefited Kurz and the ÖVP. In addition, she is said to have issued bogus bills. They are accused of being a contributor to embezzlement and bribery. The presumption of innocence applies to the leg scrape.
The arrest was apparently due to the risk of blackout: Beinschab is said to have erased the hard drive of her computer on the day before the house search on Wednesday of last week – she is said to have, as the “press” reported, “deleted server data on a large scale”. In the media after the “press” report, the question was raised whether the house searches behind the affair could have been revealed in advance.
Beinschab is the founder of the market research institute Research Affairs, which has carried out surveys for the media group “Austria” for many years. The accused group around ex-Chancellor Kurz called the survey placements “Beinschab Austria Tool”. The presumption of innocence also applies to all other accused, including Karmasin.
Published polls until recently
So far, it is unclear to what extent leg scraping has delivered politically pleasing study results in recent years – i.e. in those that are no longer documented through chats. It is well known that she continued to work for both the Ministry of Finance and the “Austria” media group. For example, “Austria” only published two research affairs surveys within a week in August, according to which 90 percent and 69 percent of all Austrians are in favor of deporting delinquent Afghans.
In 2020 and 2021, Beinschab also published several of its results as broadcasts via OTS. The broadcasts have titles such as “Austrians speak out in favor of buying Sputnik V”, “Austrians speak out against easing access to citizenship” and “Austrians clearly speak out in favor of pressure on unwilling unemployed people” and essentially coincide ÖVP positions in current debates at the time. The mailings do not reveal who commissioned the studies. They are referred to as “self-study” on their website.
Exchange of blows between the opposition and the ÖVP
The rumor that the house searches could have been betrayed in advance was followed by an exchange of blows between the opposition and the ÖVP, in which the Ministry of the Interior denied any disclosure of information. SPÖ Federal Managing Director Christian Deutsch called on Interior Minister Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) to comment immediately on the allegations in the room.
FPÖ General Secretary Michael Schnedlitz spoke of a “special class scandal” in relation to the “press” article: there was “no doubt that the pollster had the tip from the turquoise system”. Stephanie Krisper from NEOS located a “turquoise system” in the Ministry of the Interior – these “swamps” have to be “finally drained”.
“No information transfer”
The Ministry of the Interior announced on Tuesday evening in a statement submitted by ORF.at that there was “no disclosure of information” on the part of the department. The ministry referred to the “special position” of the BAK, which had “supported” the WKStA official act. Anchored by the BAK law, this “no reporting obligation within the Federal Ministry of the Interior – not even to the head of the department”, according to the ministry, according to which the BAK was also “only informed shortly before the searches”.
In defense of Nehammer, the deputy ÖVP general secretary Gabriela Schwarz had also taken action. The house searches that took place on Wednesday of last week “became public in advance through media inquiries to your party,” said a broadcast in which Schwarz also referred to her own press conference on September 28th.
“For days we received unmistakable inquiries from journalists about upcoming house searches in the vicinity of the People’s Party,” said Schwarz: “The fact that the SPÖ and FPÖ are now trying together to attack the Minister of the Interior” is “not only completely unrealistic, but also completely absurd.”
“Press”: data deletion also in “Austria”?
According to observers, evidence of an upcoming official act also suggested a closer look at the serial numbers of the casino investigation file. According to the “press”, the date for the house searches has also been postponed several times. “On October 4th, the executive and the Ministry of the Interior were informed that the raid would take place two days later,” the newspaper said.
The “press” also reported that there had also been attempts in the “Austria” media group to have data professionally deleted. Several cybersecurity companies have been asked to delete data from clouds and messenger services. This was justified with a security breach. According to “Presse”, editor-in-chief Niki Fellner spoke of a “gross misunderstanding”. At the end of August, a serious case of cybercrime was discovered in the house, in which an attempt was made to divert large amounts of bills to a US account. Fellner left open according to the “press”.
Pollsters distance themselves from leg scraping
The Association of Market and Opinion Research Institutes Austria (VdMI) meanwhile distanced itself from Beinschab. Neither she nor Karmasin were ever VdMI members, according to VdMI chairman Edith Jaksch. Beinschab wanted to become a member years ago, but was rejected.
“The present case is shocking and requires clarification from our industry. Neither the arrested Sabine Beinschab nor the accused Sophie Karmasin were ever members of the VdMI, neither with BB Research Affairs GmbH nor KARMASIN RESEARCH & IDENTITY GMBH, ”Jaksch said in a written statement.
“Suspected criminal case shocking”
The “alleged criminal case” was “shocking” and should be separated from the industry, according to Jaksch. However, the case “in no way undermines the quality and seriousness of our industry”. “Our quality criteria are strict, clear and binding.” Those who do not submit to these criteria in all of their market research projects cannot become a member of the VdMI.
Meanwhile, the Gallup Institute stated on its website “on the occasion” that Karmasin’s long-time employee Beinschab was “dismissed without notice” on April 11, 2015 “a few months after the institute’s change of ownership”. Gallup managing director Michael Nitsche, who took over the institute from Karmasin, told the “Kronen Zeitung”: “That has nothing to do with current events. There were other good reasons. For labor law reasons I cannot go into details. “