Chancellor in the Cum-Ex investigative committee: why this appointment could be so dangerous for Olaf Scholz
Created: 08/18/2022, 18:59
By: Fabian Hartmann
And departure: Chancellor Olaf Scholz leaves the federal press conference, where he was also asked about Cum-Ex.
© Kay Nietfeld/dpa
On Friday, Chancellor Scholz is to testify before the Hamburg investigative committee in the Cum-Ex affair.
So far, Scholz has referred to gaps in memory.
But the pressure is growing.
Berlin – It was an appearance that should convey confidence.
Berlin, last week.
The Federal Chancellor appears in front of the capital's press.
It's about skyrocketing energy prices, the war in Ukraine - and about Olaf Scholz himself. To be more precise: about his time as mayor in Hamburg, which also includes the Cum-Ex scandal.
The question is: did Olaf Scholz – directly or indirectly – instruct the tax office to protect the Hamburg Warburg Bank, which was involved in the affair, from a tax refund?
The current Chancellor denied that.
This matter has been under investigation for two and a half years, and there is no evidence of political influence, Scholz told the Berlin journalists.
Indirectly, it resonates: And now let it be.
Scholz and the Cum-Ex scandal: Why did Hamburg's tax authority waive 47 million euros?
But the Cum-Ex affair is far from over for the head of government.
This Friday, Scholz is to testify for the second time as a witness before the investigative committee of the Hamburg Parliament.
An eagerly awaited date - not only because it is about 47 million euros, which Hamburg's tax authorities inexplicably waived in 2016.
Even for the wealthy Hanseatic city, these are no peanuts.
In cum-ex deals, the German state was cheated by more than 30 billion euros.
Around the dividend date, banks shifted shares with (“cum”) and without (“ex”) dividend rights back and forth in order to later have the capital gains tax refunded by the tax office.
They just never paid.
In other words: cheating.
Cum-Ex in Hamburg: Tax officer writes that her "diabolical plan" worked
In Hamburg it is above all the inconsistencies that throw a spotlight on the case - and on the local SPD.
The Hamburg tax officer Daniela P also plays a central role. She is said to have advised the bank to contact politicians about the threat of additional payments.
The investigators found a chat history on her cell phone from November 17, 2016. In it she wrote to a confidante that her "diabolical plan" had worked.
And that her superiors are happy with her.
At the head of the financial administration was Peter Tschentscher - today's mayor of the SPD.
It is also proven that Olaf Scholz met Warburg manager Christian Olearius three times in 2016 and 2017.
The Chancellor initially denied these meetings.
However, during a search of Olearius' house, the police confiscated the banker's diary.
And in it the meetings were noted.
Scholz said afterwards that he couldn't remember.
What were these meetings about?
And is it plausible that the chancellor can no longer remember?
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"I don't believe Olaf Scholz's memory lapses," says Gerhard Schick, head of the Finanzwende citizens' movement, an association that sees itself as a counterweight to the financial lobby.
In an interview with
, Schick points out that there have been several meetings between Scholz and the banker.
And after all, Olearius is not just anyone – but one of the city's best-known patrons, says Schick.
The former Greens politician believes that the Scholz affair can still be dangerous - especially if key witnesses are still speaking out.
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This includes Johannes Kahrs.
The SPD man from Hamburg not only made a name for himself as a shrewd budget politician in the Bundestag - but also as a notorious string puller.
Two years ago, Kahrs surprisingly withdrew from active politics.
In the meantime, the Cologne public prosecutor's office is also investigating him in connection with Cum-Ex.
It is known that Kahrs was involved with the Warburg Bank in the past and is said to have established contact between Scholz and Olearius.
It is striking that most of the donations that the Hamburg SPD received from the Warburg Bank in 2017 went to the district association Mitte.
The chairman: Johannes Kahrs.
Investigators recently found 214,000 euros in a safe deposit box that belongs to Kahrs.
Where does the money come from?
There is a suspicion
that it could possibly be a quid pro quo from the bank.
So far, Kahrs has been silent.
Left-wing politician Fabio De Masi on Cum-Ex: "Scholz is involved"
"Mr. Scholz has to explain his talks with Johannes Kahrs," says Fabio De Masi.
The Hamburg left-wing politician left the Bundestag last year.
There he made a name for himself as a tireless investigator in the Wirecard investigative committee.
Today, De Masi sees himself as a "financial detective" and also writes columns for daily newspapers.
The ex-MP is convinced: "The Chancellor is involved," he told
"His credibility would already be massively damaged in court."
At the summer press conference last week, Scholz was also asked about Johannes Kahrs, his last contact with him and the possible origin of the money.
But the chancellor seemed clueless.
"I'm just as curious as you are," Scholz told journalists.
And anyway: He had already said everything he knew.
Ex-Wirecard enlightener De Masi was irritated by this appearance.
"Mr Scholz is happy too early, the investigations are only just picking up speed," he told our editorial team.
Scholz in the Cum-Ex Committee: New research puts Chancellor under pressure
The committee of inquiry should not be as pleasant as Scholz pretends to be.
Especially since new research is putting pressure on the chancellor.
The mailbox of a close Scholz employee was searched for media information.
It is about the suspicion that - before Scholz's first statement to the committee of inquiry in April - e-mails and calendar entries could have been deleted.
report that Scholz made contradictory statements about his meetings with banker Christian Olearius at two meetings of the Bundestag Finance Committee that were classified as confidential.
What does the chancellor say about this?
Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit did not want to comment in advance and referred to the appointment on Friday.
Then Olaf Scholz will be back in the plenary hall of the Hamburg Parliament from 2 p.m.
Not as mayor this time.
But as Federal Chancellor and witness.
Hear nothing, see nothing, know nothing – that was the strategy Scholz used to fend off questions about Cum-Ex.
It will probably stay that way.
At least that's what Fabio De Masi believes.
The former Left MP assumes that Scholz will "probably duck further".
The inconsistencies in the cum-ex affair increase.
And many witnesses have not yet been heard - for the chancellor that is explosive.
According to information of the
The Cologne public prosecutor's office - unlike the authority in Hamburg - is also keeping investigations against Scholz open.
In any case, Fabio De Masi is convinced: "It is conceivable that Olaf Scholz will fall over this affair.
The air is definitely getting thinner for him.”