The affair about nepotism and waste of the resigned RBB director Patrica Schlesinger may also have criminal consequences. The public prosecutor’s office in Berlin has initiated an investigation. A spokesman for the public prosecutor’s office in Berlin told the Tagesspiegel on Monday.
Schlesinger, her husband, ex-“Spiegel” journalist Gerhard Spörl, and the previous RBB board chief Wolf-Dieter Wolf are being investigated on suspicion of infidelity and accepting benefits. Accordingly, the investigators now see an initial suspicion. After the first revelations about the Schlesinger affair in June, the public prosecutor’s office initially found no suspicion.
The RBB affair is about allegations of nepotism, compliance violations and wasted fees, but also about luxury equipment for Schlesinger, an expensive company car and the tax costs of the director paid by the broadcaster.
Schlesinger also liked to host illustrious groups of guests at home – but at the expense of the broadcaster and thus the fee payers. Her husband Spörl, ex-Charité boss Max Einhäupl and his wife, Munich’s film school president Bettina Reitz and his husband, ex-head of the Office of the Federal President Stephan Steinlein and his wife, ex-ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, ex-senate chancellery boss Schmitz (SPD ), but also Berlin’s police chief Barbara Slowik with her husband.
A Brandenburg state politician says the Schlesingers apparently ran a private salon financed by the station. That’s how it was on February 12, 2022. That evening, nine people were invited, in addition to Schlesinger’s husband, police chief Slowik and his husband, but also Charité boss Heyo Klaus Kroemer and his wife. The sumptuous meal costs 1154.87 euros, 127 euros per person.
The program included a four-course meal, six bottles of French red wine for EUR 28.45 per bottle, six bottles of French white wine for EUR 24.65 per bottle, but also two bottles of Veuve Clicqout champagne for a total of EUR 83. There are also costs for table linen, service and kitchen and delivery for 227.50 euros.
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In addition, there were reports from the “Bild” newspaper at the weekend about the establishment of Schlesinger’s office and the adjoining rooms on the 13th floor of the Berlin television center, where the directorship is located. Since Schlesinger took office in 2016, renovations worth over 650,000 euros are said to have been made there. Almost 17,000 euros were billed for the new parquet floor in Schlesinger’s office alone.
The precious parquet from an Italian manufacturer had to be installed very quickly and at short notice in place of the old carpet – during Schlesinger’s vacation in October 2016. Otherwise she would have had to wait even longer.
For Schlesinger’s special request, procurement guidelines were even circumvented, as can be seen from documents available to the Tagesspiegel. At the time, a department head at RBB wrote that according to the broadcaster’s procurement regulations, she had to “obtain at least two more comparative offers”. But “to keep Ms. Schlesinger’s desired date,” she asked for an exception.
The senior employee also writes to the manufacturer about the order: “We can now confirm this date if we have commissioned the offer by Wednesday. The parquet is specially made for the customer. The manufacturing company (…) in Italy has fixed processes for this. The wood is always oiled at the end of a month using a special process.”
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Later, the broadcaster’s internal audit department complained “that this procurement process (…) did not comply with RBB compliance guidelines”. “At least two other companies should have been asked,” says a letter from an employee.
In addition to her salary, which increased by 16 percent to 303,000 euros, the ex-director received a five-digit bonus as a “variable salary component” in 2021. Since the RBB has granted her the private use of a company car – a luxury Audi A8 and the two chauffeurs – she has to pay tax on the pecuniary benefit. However, the broadcaster took over the costs of taxation via “components of the remuneration”.
In addition, Schlesinger’s husband Gerhard Spörl is said to have used the company car for his own business trips – including to the Berlin Exhibition Center. Spörl had received a highly paid consultant contract for media coaching from trade fair boss Martin Ecknig through the mediation of RBB administrative board chief Wolf-Dieter Wolf, especially since Wolf is also the supervisory board chairman of the trade fair.
The list of allegations against Schlesinger also included a secret contract for the company car and significantly higher costs for the construction of the media house.