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Ex-Austrian Vice-Chancellor 'addicted' to gaming

December 23, 2019

Heinz-Christian Strache charged his far-right FPÖ party up to €3,000 a month for playing online smartphone game Clash of Clans, according to reports. Strache lost his political posts in October over a corruption scandal.

Former FPÖ chief Heinz-Christian Strache
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/APA/K. Hecht

The former Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache spent between €2,000 and €3,000 ($2,200–3,300) a month playing the mobile phone game "Clash of Clans," and charged the fees to his political party, according to a lawyer formerly close to him.

The bizarre detail from Strache's life was included in a report the Ibiza-based lawyer, named only as M., filed to the Austrian federal police in 2015.

Strache, the former leader of the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), resigned all his political posts and retired from politics in October after a video emerged of him in Ibiza offering business contacts in exchange for political support from a woman posing as the niece of a Russian oligarch.

The "Ibiza scandal" had a seismic effect on Austrian politics with the FPÖ losing voters in the subsequent election. Strache was expelled from the party earlier this month.

The new report was leaked to the Austrian Kleine Zeitung on Monday, and Georg Renner, the reporter who broke the story, tweeted a screenshot of the federal police note, which said that the politician was "addicted" to the strategy game. 

According to Renner, the police investigation was dropped because M. refused to offer any more information, an explanation that has not satisfied Austria's opposition politicians like parliamentarian Stephanie Krisper of the New Austria and Liberal Forum (NEOS)

News outlets noted that it was difficult to confirm the claim since the game's developer Supercell did not give out account information, but there have been previous reports that Strache played the game and used a party credit card to pay for it.

At the time, the then-FPÖ leader said he had used his party's account by mistake and had returned the money.

The object of "Clash of Clans" is to build up a town, defend it, and conquer towns belonging to other players. Players can also join forces and chat to each other in real time while playing.

Downloading the game is free, but it is financed througha host of in-game purchases, each of which can cost anything up to €109, a business model that led the game to become the most lucrative gaming app of 2013.

Benjamin Knight Kommentarbild PROVISORISCH
Ben Knight Ben Knight is a journalist in Berlin who mainly writes about German politics.@BenWernerKnight