0_Web_Top storiesEuropeEurope.portalSvet.Slajder

Berlin Public Prosecutor investigates Green Party executive committee

The Berlin public prosecutor's office is investigating the entire federal executive board of the Greens on initial suspicion of embezzlement, a spokesperson confirmed to dpa on Wednesday evening, confirming an earlier Der Spiegel report.

The Berlin public prosecutor’s office is investigating the entire federal executive board of the Greens on initial suspicion of embezzlement, a spokesperson confirmed to dpa on Wednesday evening, confirming an earlier Der Spiegel report.

A Green Party spokesperson also confirmed that there were investigations and explained: “It is about the involvement of the members of the federal executive board in decisions to pay out so-called ‘coronavirus bonuses,’ which – as already known – had been paid in 2020 to all employees of the federal office and at the same time to the federal executive board.”

The Green Party executive committee includes party leaders Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck, currently senior ministers in the German government. At the party conference at the end of next week, a new federal executive committee is due to be elected.

According to the Green Party spokesperson, the executive board had been legitimized to make the relevant decisions “from the point of view of all parties involved.” The members had paid back the bonuses in the meantime.

“The board members concerned and the federal office are cooperating fully with the public prosecutor’s office to clarify the facts quickly and completely.”

The coronavirus bonus of 1,500 euros (1,700 dollars) per person was given to all staff of the Green Party’s federal office last winter. It was intended to compensate for the stress caused by working from home and the renovation of the building.

The spokesperson for the public prosecutor’s office said that there had been several criminal complaints from private parties. The investigations had been going on since January 6. It is the lowest level of suspicion. The public prosecutor’s office sees an initial suspicion.

Because of the immunity of members of the Bundestag, the public prosecutor’s office had informed the presidency before the investigations began. According to a Bundestag resolution, such investigations are then allowed after 48 hours.

Internal party auditors had already objected to the payments to the executive committee. The report was made available to dpa, which reported on it in October. The bonus was also paid to the six members of the Federal Executive Committee, but according to the auditors, this was not covered by the party’s internal regulations.

“In fact, only the 300 euros stipulated in the collective agreement was covered.” This step would have been better approved by the Federal Finance Council, which includes not only the Federal Treasurer but also delegates from the state associations, the auditors noted, “since a financial arrangement should not be made by the beneficiaries alone.”

At the time, the auditors had in the case of the Executive Committee, in addition to the coronavirus bonus, also special payment in 2019, which was justified, among other things, by the good election result in the European elections.

Treasurer Marc Urbatsch, himself a member of the board, had announced the repayment at the time and stated that special payments for board members should be abolished.

Baerbock and Habeck are not standing again as federal chairs, having joined the federal government as foreign minister and economics minister. The previous deputy chair, Ricarda Lang, and foreign policy expert Omid Nouripour are running to succeed them.

The parliamentary secretary of the conservative parliamentary group, Thorsten Frei, called in the Rheinische Post newspaper for a speedy clarification of the events.

“The question arises how it can happen that a committee of the Greens passes a resolution from which primarily the members of this committee benefit financially,” Frei said, adding that there is a suspicion that internal party rules might have been violated.

“This should be clarified as soon as possible, especially for the sake of political credibility,” Frei said.

Back to top button
Close