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Trial of CDU slush fund figure Schreiber begins

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Trial of CDU slush fund figure Schreiber begins
Photo: DPA
12:34 CET+01:00
Arms dealer Karlheinz Schreiber went on trial in Augsburg on Monday for tax evasion, fraud and bribery. Extradited from Canada, he is a key figure in slush fund scandal involving Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democrats.

Prosecutor Marcus Paintinger told the regional court that Schreiber withheld €12.3 million (24.1 million marks) in taxes from the sales of helicopters to the Canadian Coast Guard, Airbus airplanes to Thailand, supplying tanks to Saudi Arabia as well as a failed tank deal with the Canadian military. In order to conceal his dealings, Paintinger said Schreiber built an "obscure house of lies" that deceived the fiscal authorities.

He also accuses the German-Canadian of bribing former Defence Ministry official Ludwig-Holger Pfals in exchange for contracts. Schreiber denies all the charges.

The German-Canadian Schreiber faced a judge for the first time since his extradition from Canada in August 2009. "Today we are where my case belongs," the 75-year-old calmly told reporters as he walked through a throng of flashing cameras to make his court appearance. Schreiber fought his extradition from Canada for more than 10 years.

Schreiber is also a key figure in a slush fund scandal that rocked Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union in the 1990s. He was alleged to have exchanged a brief case containing €511,000 (DM1 million) with the former party treasurer Walther Leisler Kiep in a Swiss parking lot. Prosecutors said that money flowed into party coffers.

The scandal tarnished former Chancellor Helmut Kohl's reputation and pave the way for Merkel to become party leader after her current finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, was forced to step down.

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