Cum-Ex: CDU and Linke demand “clean sweep” from Scholz
Why did the Hamburg tax authorities cancel millions of claims against Warburg Bank, which was involved in the “Cum-Ex” scandal? And did the bankers’ meetings with then mayor Olaf Scholz have anything to do with it? The Chancellor will be heard on Friday.
CDU and leftists in the Hamburg parliament have high hopes for Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s second hearing before the Commission of Inquiry into the “Cum-Ex” scandal this Friday. “I expect Mr Scholz to finally unpack and clean up,” CDU chairman Richard Seelmaecker told the German news agency. No one believes in the memory gaps the chancellor refers to in connection with meetings with the shareholders of the Warburg Bank who were involved in the scandal when he was mayor of Hamburg.
The committee must clarify the possible influence of leading SPD politicians on the tax treatment of the bank. These are claims of many millions of euros, which the Hamburg tax authorities had initially set time-barred in 2016.
He expects Scholz to answer the questions truthfully and precisely “and not mumble or dodge”, according to Seelmaecker. “Unlike in other situations, he is obliged to tell the truth in the inquiry committee.”
“The time when Scholz & Co. cheated is finally over,” said left-wing chairman Norbert Hackbusch. “It is said that important information has been withheld from the Commission of Inquiry.” According to information from the committee, a similar suspicion emerges from the investigation files sent by the Cologne Public Prosecutor’s Office. “If this suspicion is confirmed, it would be another serious scandal,” Hackbusch said.
AfD committee members were more down-to-earth: “We don’t expect much from this Friday poll; the chancellor won’t remember anything interesting in his usual practice,” MPs Alexander Wolf and Krzysztof Walczak said.
SPD chairman Milan Pein pointed out that the allegations had not yet been confirmed in the committee. “More than 50 witnesses from various offices, authorities and departments made it very clear, independently of each other, that there was no political influence on Warburg Bank’s tax process.” All witness statements also matched the notes, reports and draft decisions of the Tax and Customs Administration and the Tax Authorities.
The green coalition partner, on the other hand, still needs clarification. “What role did the personal meetings between Mr. Scholz and Messrs. Olearius and Warburg play in this tax case? The involvement of Messrs. Pawelczyk and Kahrs in entering into an agreement with Mr. Scholz remains just as strange – why was their intercession necessary for an appointment with the mayor?”, asked their chairman Farid Müller.
Former interior senator Alfons Pawelczyk and former Bundestag member Johannes Kahrs are said to have worked to ensure bank shareholders Christian Olearius and Max Warburg could talk to then-mayor Scholz in 2016 and 2017. Contrary to the original plans, after the first meeting, the tax authorities initially barred a tax refund of 47 million euros to the bank. A year later, under pressure from the Federal Ministry of Finance, she only submitted a claim for repayment of 43 million euros, shortly before the limitation period started.
Kahrs, Pawelczyk and the Warburg Bank tax officer at the time are under investigation on suspicion of encouraging tax evasion in connection with ‘cum-ex’ transactions.
Scholz now has the opportunity “not only to leave the said inconsistencies there as part of unproven attempts to influence them, but to help paint a more accurate picture of the events at the time,” said GroenLinks chairman Müller. of the dpa.
However, the chancellor himself has already tempered expectations of his testimony by pointing out recently that the commission has not found any evidence of influence since its inception at the end of 2020. “I am sure this realization will not change,” he said at his summer press conference.