16 mar 2022 4:50 p.m
After the conclusion of the investigation against Chancellor Scholz and Hamburg’s Mayor Tschentscher in connection with the Cum-Ex scandal, the public prosecutor’s office rejected the application of a Hamburg lawyer to bring charges against the politicians. The reason given is that “there are no sufficient factual indications of a crime”.
On February 15, 2022, the well-known Hamburg lawyer Gerhard Strate filed a criminal complaint with the Hamburg public prosecutor’s office against the Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the Hamburg Mayor Peter Tschentscher because of “assistance in tax evasion”. In his application, Strate also accused the Chancellor of “false unsworn testimony”.
In a statement from the public prosecutor’s office, it is now stated that “with regard to the complaint submitted by the law firm Strate” in accordance with the applicable Code of Criminal Procedure, “it is refrained from initiating preliminary proceedings”.
On March 12, 2021, the parliamentary investigative committee (PUA) “Cum-Ex tax money affair” of the Hamburg Parliament began its work to clarify the question
“Why the Hamburg Senate and the Hamburg tax administration were willing to allow millions of euros in taxes to be statute-barred with a view to cum-ex transactions and to what extent this exerted influence in favor of the taxable bank and to the detriment of the people of Hamburg.”
These are the statements in the 38-page lawsuit by attorney Strate dated February 15. The questions that the committee has been investigating since then are as follows:
- “Why didn’t Hamburg reclaim 47 million euros from the bank MMWarburg & CO in 2016 and also wanted to let a claim for a further 43 million euros expire in 2017?
- Was there any influence from the then Mayor Olaf Scholz on the process? What did the Finance Senator at the time, Peter Tschentscher, know?
- Was he involved in the process and did he have any influence?
- Did he have his authorities under control and did they act in the interests of the city?
- Was there political influence from other people on the decision of the Hamburg tax office?
- Do the acting officials document the control of the financial administration, whose chief employer was Peter Tschentscher?
- How could it come to this high million dollar loss for the city of Hamburg?”
The current chancellor, Olaf Scholz, is said to have neglected to reclaim 47 million euros from the Warburg Bank in his position as mayor of Hamburg (2011 to 2018). the NDR summarizes the past events:
“Peter Tschentscher, according to the lawyer’s main allegation, was obliged in his former position as Senator for Finance to prevent illegal behavior by his authority. The background is that in 2016 Hamburg initially allowed a million-euro claim against the Warburg Bank to become statute-barred [sic!], only reclaimed the money the following year after the federal government had intervened. At that time, Warburg representatives were already being investigated on suspicion of illegal cum-ex transactions. According to Strate, Scholz and Tschentscher knew that.
Under point 4 of the criminal complaint: “False testimony by Olaf Scholz before the parliamentary committee of inquiry”, Strate questions Scholz’s appearance before the committee of inquiry at the time and claims: “This statement is wrong.” A quote from the ad:
“During the course of the hearing by the chairman of the investigative committee and its members, Mr. Scholz confirmed at least 40 times that he had no recollection. When asked whether the fate of the Warburg Bank had been discussed at any preliminary Senate meeting, he explained that he remembered the ‘not at all’.”
The overall suspicion against Scholz would also result from the fact that in his function as the mayor at the time, he “was aware at the time of the talks about the criminal nature of the “cum-ex business”, according to Strate’s accusation. The lawyer referred to this as evidence a “own tweet” by Scholz from December 9, 2019 (after he lost in a run-off election for the federal chairmanship of the SPD in June of that year against the duo Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans):
“I think #Cum-Ex is a huge mess. And I wonder how anyone could have considered these tax dodges legal and legitimate.”
In the justification for the termination notice of the Hamburg public prosecutor’s office of March 14, it says with regard to the allegations in the indictment that the public prosecutor’s office is “obliged” to “intervene” if there is “initial suspicion of criminal prosecution”. The refusal reads as follows:
“An initial suspicion of criminal prosecution exists when there are sufficient indications of a crime. That is not the case here.”
According to the assessment of the senior public prosecutor, the facts “indicated” in the indictment would already have been “the subject of the examination of an initial suspicion”. This would mean:
“The recent explanations of the known events accordingly do not provide sufficient factual evidence for the existence of a criminal offence, not even for aiding and abetting tax evasion,”
to finally state in the last point: “An initial suspicion cannot be based on the merely subjective assumption that a statement is false.” In a statement on his website, lawyer Gerhard Strate comments on the decision of the Hamburg public prosecutor’s office with the words: “This is an argument that is as lean as it is legally incorrect. A main offense – and this also applies to tax law – is only over when it has actually come to an end Has.” And further:
“In this way, every citizen can get an idea of the benevolence with which the public prosecutor’s office judges the lack of memory of the former mayor Olaf Scholz. They have the blessing of the city government for this, but not that of the thinking and still discerning citizens.
For them, the false statements made by Olaf Scholz to the committee of inquiry are an impertinence. The same applies to the Hamburg public prosecutor who salvaged him with this decision.”
More on the subject – The Federal Ministry of Finance is hesitating: Protocol on Scholz to the Cum-Ex scandal must be checked