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State 'paid prostitute bill' in investor hunt

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State 'paid prostitute bill' in investor hunt
Photo: DPA
16:39 CEST+02:00
A German state gave €1 million to a former circus director's assistant and an ex-hotel manager to find investors for the troubled Nürburgring race track – and then paid extra for luxury stays in Zurich, complete with brothel visits.

The government of Rhineland-Palatinate is under increasing pressure as revelations emerge about its handling of the Nürburgring disaster. It went bust last month after investors could not be found for a pleasure park and holiday complex opened there in 2009.

Social Democrat State Premier Kurt Beck, is reported to have pumped at least €330 million of public money into the park to keep it afloat. Six people, including Rhineland-Palatinate's former Finance Minister Ingolf Deubel, face a court case in Koblenz in October for their part in the costly fiasco.

Deubel was under extreme pressure from 2007 onwards to find private investors for the project, and is said to have put his faith in two financial negotiators who promised to get the investment for him, the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported on Monday.

The two men, who have not been named, have been called as witnesses in the court case. One was once a hotel director in Wiesbaden, while the other was an assistant to a circus director.

Deubel gave these two men a million euros in advance for their work, the paper said, citing internal state documents dated May 2009.

Despite this substantial advance, the two men apparently said they did not have enough money for their business trips to Zurich, the paper said, so the state-owned Nürburgring company continued to fork out.

An outraged worker wrote in the 2009 report that these journeys "developed more and more into excessive trips."

The negotiators reportedly stayed at Zurich's Dolder Grand Hotel for 490 Swiss francs (€408) per night - not including breakfast. They ate at top restaurants, running up bills that occasionally exceeded 2,000 francs, and even hired taxi drivers to fetch them cigarettes at night, the Süddeutsche Zeitung said.

One of the men also had a contact to a Zurich pimp, who organized prostitutes to visit their hotel rooms, and on another night, hosted a diamond mine owner from South Africa at a local brothel.

Lawyer Bernd Schneider, who is representing one of the men accused, said that the entire state cabinet knew what was happening at the time.

The Local/bk

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