Indignation about the judicial scolding of SPD Chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz (63). But there is criticism from the competition – but also from well-known lawyers! Core accusation: Scholz saw doubts about the independence of the judiciary!
The Vice-Chancellor had criticized the Lower Saxony judiciary after a raid on his Ministry of Finance (“Questions could have been asked in writing”).
Scholz’s team actively spread that the search of the Osnabrück public prosecutor’s office for failure to forward money laundering reports to investigators had been politically influenced by the CDU-led Ministry of Justice in Lower Saxony. They sensed sinister intrigue.
Alleged puller behind the search at the finance and at the same time in the Federal Ministry of Justice: the Lower Saxony Minister of Justice Barbara Havliza (63) – of course from the CDU. The searches were not ordered by the public prosecutors or the Ministry in Hanover – but by a proper German court!
Lower Saxony’s Minister of Justice on BILD:
►Scholz ‘statements “testify to a dubious understanding of the rule of law”.
► “Such statements about independent courts and public prosecutors are grist to the mill of lateral thinkers.”
► “There was no influence.”
And Havliza gets prominent support.
Constitutional lawyer gives her right
▶ ︎The internationally renowned Constitutional lawyer Professor Ulrich Battis (77, Humboldt Uni) to BILD: “Scholz tried to delegitimize the work of the judiciary. That falls on his feet. Because we all know: Dogs hit bark. “
FDP financial expert Florian Toncar (41) to BILD: “For a candidate for chancellor this is a questionable understanding of the law.” He demands: “Mr. Scholz, take that back!”
Raid an election campaign?
Scholz, himself a lawyer, belittled the search operation, gave the impression that the raid was connected with the election campaign and was not directed against his house at all.
But the investigators want to clarify more than trivialities: They want to know how it is that the German tax FBI (FIU, 470 officials), which belongs to the Scholz Ministry, does not regularly report to banks about suspected money laundering, drug trafficking and terrorist financing passes on to public prosecutors. And that, although the investigators have been complaining about the grievance for years and the state justice ministers presented to Scholz last year and requested changes.
In their statement on the raid, the public prosecutors write: “It is to be investigated whether and, if so, to what extent the management and those responsible for the ministries as well as superior departments were involved in decisions of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).”
Has the search been deliberately delayed?
Havliza, whose head of government is Scholz comrade Stefan Weil (62, SPD), also opposes the suspicion spread by Scholz people that the search was delayed for a month. The court’s decision had been in place for four weeks.
Havliza to BILD: “That is only half the story. The second decision to search the Justice Department was made on August 25th. The searches should be carried out at the same time. In view of the necessary preparations, I do not find almost two weeks from the signing of the decision to the search to be carried out unusually long. “
That’s what Laschet says about the affair
Union Chancellor candidate Armin Laschet (60, CDU): “If your own ministry is searched to tell the public prosecutor what it would have done better, you only know from populist states. You should avoid anything that gives the impression that we do not have an independent judiciary. “
Green finance expert Sven Gigolt (51) told the “Neues Osnabrücker Zeitung”: “Olaf Scholz fails in the fight against financial crime (…) every victim’s attitude after the search is out of place.” Bavaria’s ex-Justice Minister Winfried Bausback (55) to BILD: “If such suspicions are made without substance, it is devastating for confidence in the rule of law.”
That is what the raid was about
The starting point for the current raids on Scholz and the Ministry of Justice is a case from June 2018. At that time, a bank reported to the FIU suspicious “payments to Africa of more than EUR 1 million” related to “arms and drug trafficking and terrorist financing” could have done, writes the Osnabrück public prosecutor’s office.
“The FIU took note of this report, but did not forward it to German law enforcement authorities, so that there was no longer any possibility of stopping the payments.” According to the law, Scholz’s money laundering investigators have to report suspected cases within 48 hours. After that, payments can no longer be stopped.
► As BILD learned, the first searches at the FIU headquarters in Cologne suspected that the failure of the FIU had a “system”: higher-level agencies had slowed the investigators – consciously or through a lack of support.
Judicial authorities and state ministries have repeatedly complained – most recently almost a year ago – to Scholz and his SPD colleague Christine Lamprecht (Justice). Without success.
Frank Buckenhofer, head of the customs department in the police union (GdP) on BILD: “Olaf Scholz is now falling on his feet, which he ignored for years despite sufficient information from the professional world.” For years the FIU has been investigating “flying blind.” And it has not left this flight mode until today. “
Not the first Scholz financial scandal
And it’s not the first financial scandal Scholz has been associated with:
► The cum-ex scandal of windy tax tricks running into billions, in which the Hamburg-based Warburg Bank was also involved. After a controversial meeting with the Warburg boss, Scholz (then Hamburg’s mayor) could no longer remember any of the contents of the conversation. In the end, the city waived EUR 47 million. Scholz does not remember to this day …
► The Wirecard scandal: When the Dax group went bankrupt, the financial supervisory authority (Bafin) – located under Scholz – failed completely. Warnings were ignored and journalists persecuted. In addition to the Bafin, the FIU boss Christof Schulte was also targeted by the later investigative committee. Even then, the FIU failed to follow up four reports of suspicious financial transactions.