Chancellor Scholz: "No concrete ability to remember" can be derived
Photo: Christian Spicker / IMAGO
For the time being, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) does not have to fear any investigations into the tax affair involving the Hamburg Warburg Bank because of any false statements made under oath.
The Hamburg Attorney General sees no corresponding initial suspicion against Scholz in connection with "Cum-Ex" transactions.
With the decision, the public prosecutor's office confirmed an identical decision by the Hamburg public prosecutor's office from December last year.
The background to this was a complaint by the renowned criminal lawyer Gerhard Strate, who accused Scholz of having made different statements about his memory in the Bundestag Finance Committee and in the Parliamentary Investigation Committee (PUA) of the Hamburg Parliament.
When did Scholz remember what?
Specifically, it is about meetings between Scholz and the shareholders of Warburg Bank during his time as Hamburg mayor in 2016 and 2017. According to Strate, the minutes of the Bundestag that have now been made public show that Scholz was still involved in surveys in March and July 2020 in the finance committee could remember the contents of a meeting.
In April 2021, Scholz then stated during his first interrogation in front of the Hamburg PUA that he could not remember the meeting at all.
However, the references to the meeting with the Warburg people are not sufficient for the Attorney General's Office.
One had come to the conclusion "that no specific memory of the affected Scholz can be derived from the relevant logs either," it said.
Scholz's statements, rendered in indirect speech, are "objectively ambiguous" and are largely based on findings from media reports and published diary entries by Warburg shareholder Christian Olearius.
It can also not be ruled out that the memory gaps that Scholz referred to in the PUA only solidified after his statements in the finance committee.
Or, for example, that Scholz made a mistake in front of the finance committee, but not in the parliamentary committee of inquiry the following year.
Both would go unpunished.
Hamburg PUA summons witnesses again
But the Hamburg tax affair is not over for the chancellor yet.
The parliamentary investigative committee of the Hamburg Parliament will deal with Scholz's statements to the Finance Committee of the Bundestag in April.
38 participants who were present at the time were then invited as witnesses in two sessions.
The cum-ex affair about the Warburg Bank is about the question of whether the bank should be prevented from having to pay a fine of millions through political intervention and possibly on the instructions of Scholz.
A parliamentary committee of inquiry has been investigating this for around two and a half years.
Scholz has already testified there twice as a witness.
He always vehemently rejected all allegations of influence.
In »cum-ex« transactions, blocks of shares were moved back and forth by several participants around the dividend record date with (»cum«) and without (»ex«) a right to a dividend.
In the case of the Warburg Bank, the responsible Hamburg tax office had initially waived a reclaim of 47 million euros.
It was not until the following year that the Federal Ministry of Finance issued an instruction and forced Hamburg to demand a refund.