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German prosecutors discuss corruption probe into finance minister Lindner

German prosecutors discuss corruption probe into finance minister Lindner

by host

BERLIN — German Finance Minister Christian Lindner could face a corruption investigation over conflict of interest allegations.

Berlin’s attorney general’s office is mulling whether to lift Lindner’s parliamentary immunity and launch an investigation into his links to BBBank. Last year, Lindner gave a speech at a bank function after having received a loan from the lender.

A spokesman for the attorney general’s office confirmed media reports on the issue and told POLITICO that the sequence of events is “usual in such cases” and the office would not “make a statement about the existence of an initial suspicion.”

Depending on the outcome of an ongoing preliminary investigation, notifying the Bundestag’s president would be enough to initiate a full investigation, according to the spokesman.

Spiegel magazine first reported in October 2022 about Lindner’s involvement with BBBank.

According to the report, Lindner bought a property in Berlin for €1.65 million in January 2021 and took out a loan worth €2.35 million to cover purchase and renovation costs. In June 2022, shortly before taking out another €450,000 loan, Lindner made a three-minute video to be played at BBBank’s 100th anniversary bash.

According to the manuscript of the video, obtained by POLITICO, Lindner started his speech with the words: “I like BBBank from the bottom up.”

Despite some German media reports suggesting the minister had “apparently concealed” that he had taken out a loan with the institution, Lindner had worked with the bank before he became a minister and was paid for his appearances, information that is available on the Bundestag website.

Lindner’s lawyer denied in October the accusation of his client mixing private and official interests, saying there had been “no personal, content-related or even temporal connection between the official requested greeting and the private real-estate financing.”

On Sunday evening, the lawyer once again rejected the accusations, claiming that the real-estate financing had been secured long before Lindner became a minister.

Lindner himself retweeted a report in the FAZ newspaper that featured his lawyer’s statements.

A spokesperson for the Finance Ministry said Monday that the ministry was not aware of the preliminary investigations by the attorney general’s office, declining to comment on the prosecutor’s actions.

The bank’s request for a video was dealt with at the ministry’s management level, the spokesperson said, adding that Lindner voluntarily submitted to the ministry’s compliance measures concerning private financial transactions when taking office.

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