The man identified in the Hamburger Morgenpost newspaper as Thorsten Kuhlmann, a former politician for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), was in court on Friday facing civil charges for more than half a million euros.
But this was just the first of 13 cases against him. It was also announced on Friday that he would face 223 criminal fraud charges concerning damages of €370,000, Wilhelm Möllers, spokesman for the public prosecutor said.
The Hamburger Morgenpost said he could face up to ten years in prison if convicted.
He had up to 400 flats across the city, renting out hundreds of them at inflated prices by declaring them as bigger than they were, or declaring them as flats when they were cellars, it is alleged.
The Hamburg Jobcentre, which pays rent for those on benefits in the city, including many of Kuhlmann’s tenants, is suing in the civil case for damages of €670,000 for the inflated rent he charged – and in the cases of the cellars, for all the money paid.
Kuhlmann was dubbed by the local press as the “Horror Landlord” for the terrible condition of some of the flats he rented to benefit recipients, drug addicts and homeless people when the scandal was uncovered in 2010.
He has already repaid more than €100,000 into a special bank account as security, the Hamburger Morgenpost reported.