‘New Madoff’ fraud feared in Germany

A German lawyer warned on Friday of a "new Madoff case" as the number of potential victims of fraud involving the speculative German fund K1 soared.

“We are receiving more and more calls (about the fund),” said lawyer Klaus Nieding, who specialises in defending financial investors.

“We can speak of a new Madoff case; the sums are certainly not as large, but on a German scale it is already very big,” Nieding said, referring to Bernard Madoff, convicted of massive fraud in a US case.

“Estimations of damages run from €500 million to €1 billion euros, of which half involves institutional investors,” Nieding said.

K1 founder Helmut Kiener was incarcerated late Thursday.

Prosecutors in the southern city of Würzburg suspect Kiener of “not respecting investment instructions given by a British bank and a French bank.”

They are also investigating allegations of fraud and embezzlement, a statement said.

The French bank BNP Paribas is among the investors concerned and an investigation has also begun in the United States.

The German financial market watchdog BaFin has been checking on K1 since at least June 2004, when it forbade the firm from operating in Germany.

K1 was organised as a holding company for several speculative hedge funds.

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Germany cracks down on fake Covid vaccine documents

German police have set up a special team to fight a growing number of forged vaccine certificates being sold in the black market

Germany cracks down on fake Covid vaccine documents
People who are fully vaccinated can show their vaccination booklet, which has a stamp and a sticker inside. Photo: Ina FASSBENDER / AFP

Police in Cologne have warned of a group of fraudsters selling fake vaccination certificates, a growing problem the scale of which is still unclear.

The police said the fraudsters worked in encrypted Telegram chats, making investigations difficult, and were selling fake documents with all the stamps and signatures, including a mark about vaccination with BioNTech or AstraZeneca.

READ ALSO: Germany probes Covid-19 testing centres for fraud

The fraud involved both real traffic in fake documents as well as scams luring customers into paying €100.

People in Germany who are fully vaccinated can show their vaccination booklet, which has a stamp and a sticker inside. Those who don’t have a booklet get a piece of paper.

Covid health passes are currently being rolled out across the EU, with a European health passport expected to be available from mid-June.

READ ALSO: What’s the latest on how the EU’s ‘Covid passports’ will work for travellers?

Over 44% of the adult population in Germany has received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, and more than 18% of Germans have been fully vaccinated.

German police have said forged coronavirus vaccine documents are becoming an increasing problem.

Last month, a couple in Baden-Württemberg was accused of selling fake coronavirus vaccination certificates.