The investigation into organized smuggling crime has been expanded to include Düren district administrator Wolfgang Spelthahn (CDU). The Düren district announced this on Friday. The public prosecutor’s office is investigating the initial suspicion of bribery.

“I don’t know why I’m being accused specifically. I have nothing to blame myself for and will do everything I can to refute this initial suspicion,” said Spelthahn.

His lawyer will request access to the files in order to find out the background to the investigation. The CDU politician said through a spokesman that he had also informed the parliamentary group leaders in the district council and the district president and initiated disciplinary proceedings against himself. 

The public prosecutor did not want to say what the initial suspicion against Spelthahn was based on. According to her, the number of defendants in the proceedings has now increased from 38 to 58. In addition, 147 suspected beneficiaries are being investigated who are said to have illegally obtained residence permits through the smugglers. 

North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) is scheduled to report on the case at a special meeting of the state parliament’s Interior Committee on Tuesday – including about his meetings with the alleged head of the smuggling gang. He is also said to have supported his election campaign with donations. This emerges from a joint application from the SPD and FDP, which is available to the German Press Agency. The “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger” had previously reported.

The alleged smuggling gang is said to have obtained residence permits for Germany from wealthy people from China and Oman. In this context, the police raided apartments in eight federal states in April.

The investigators are investigating the suspicion that the suspected smugglers may have also bribed officials in authorities to ensure that their clients from abroad received the desired residence permit.