AfD provides list of names behind ‘illegal’ campaign finance scandal

AfD leader Alice Weidel’s failure to disclose illegal campaign finance donations before the 2017 election from a Swiss pharmaceutical company led to an investigation, which remains ongoing. The party has provided investigators with a list of names which they say were behind the donations, thereby rendering them consistent with German law.

AfD provides list of names behind 'illegal' campaign finance scandal
Photo: DPA

The far-right Alternative for Germany party’s campaign finance scandal has deepened, with the party providing a list of names which they say were responsible for the series of donations totalling 130,000 made before the 2017 federal election. 

The AfD repaid the donations but failed to report them to the requisite authorities. 

SEE ALSO: German prosecutors probing 'illegal' donations to AfD: report

The list contained 14 purported benefactors, most of which were German. Under German law donations to political parties from non-EU sources are forbidden, while donations from other EU countries are restricted. Switzerland is not a member of the EU. 

The party said that the 14 benefactors, not the Swiss pharmaceutical company which was originally suspected to have made the transfers, were behind the donations. 

The party has been embroiled in several campaign finance scandals in recent months, including another 150,000 donation from an unknown Dutch political organization called the 'European Identity Foundation'.

The donations subject to this investigation were made via several transfers to the AfD’s Lake Constance branch.

Party leader Alice Weidel is officially under investigation in relation to the donations. 

The transfers were made with the subject line “campaign donation Alice Weidel”. A former investment banker, Weidel divides her time between Lake Constance and Switzerland. 

The AfD refused to comment on the ongoing investigation, but said in their 2018 annual report that the donations were made from individuals who were “to the best of [the AfD’s] knowledge, German nationals or EU nationals”. 

However, as reported by the dpa, the board of directors of the Swiss pharmaceutical company who have been traced back to the donations, already indicated that the money had been transferred by the company “in trust for a business friend”. 

If the Bundestag is unsatisfied with the AfD’s explanation for the repayment of the funds, the party will owe three times the amount received as a fine. 

Weidel said that while the party did not realize until later that the donations had been made contrary to German law, the amounts were promptly repaid. This then led to the mistaken belief that the donations did not need to be reported. 

“Yes, we made mistakes,” Weidel said. “We recognized it, responded and paid it back”. 

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Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has sued the German parliament for removing some of his official post-retirement perks over his links to Russian energy giants, his lawyer said Friday.

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Schröder, 78, has come under heavy criticism for his proximity to Russian President Vladimir Putin and involvement with state-backed energy companies.

The decision to suspend Schröder’s taxpayer-funded office and staff in May was “contrary to the rule of law”, Michael Nagel, told public broadcaster NDR.

Schröder “heard of everything through the media”, Nagel said, noting that the Social Democrat had asked for a hearing before the budget committee responsible but was not given the chance to express himself.

READ ALSO: Germany strips Schröder of official perks over Russia ties

Schröder’s lawyers filed the complaint with an administrative Berlin court, a spokesman for the court confirmed.

In its decision to strip him of the perks, the committee concluded that Schröder, who served as chancellor from 1998 to 2005, “no longer upholds the continuing obligations of his office”.

Most of Schröder’s office staff had already quit before the final ruling was made.

Despite resigning from the board of Russian oil company Rosneft and turning down a post on the supervisory board of gas giant Gazprom in May, Schröder has maintained close ties with the Kremlin.

The former chancellor met Putin in July, after which he said Moscow was ready for a “negotiated solution” to the war in Ukraine — comments branded as “disgusting” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Last week, the Social Democrats concluded that Schröder would be allowed to remain a member after he was found not have breached party rules over his ties to the Russian President.

Schröder’s stance on the war and solo diplomacy has made him an embarrassment to the SPD, which is also the party of current Chancellor Olaf Scholz.