ARCHIV - 27.11.2019, Berlin: Johannes Kahrs (SPD) spricht mit erhobenem Zeigefinger in Richtung AfD im Bundestag während der Generaldebatte zum Bundeshaushalt 2020. (zu dpa: FDP gegen Kahrs als Wehrbeauftragten - Kritik an «Postengeschacher») Foto: Michael Kappeler/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

After the discovery of a large amount of cash from an SPD politician, the Union sees new questions for Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) in the cum-ex affair about the Hamburg Warburg Bank. “There are increasing numbers of indications that the relevant SPD politicians in Hamburg have unlawfully influenced the Warburg tax matter,” said the deputy chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, Mathias Middelberg, to the Tagesspiegel.

In cum-ex transactions, blocks of shares were pushed back and forth around the dividend date in such a way that taxes could be refunded several times, i.e. the state was cheated.

A committee of inquiry in Hamburg is currently trying to clarify whether, during Scholz’s time as Hamburg’s first mayor, leading SPD politicians influenced tax decisions at the Warburg Bank, which was involved in the cum-ex scandal, whether they deliberately imposed back taxes in the tens of millions has been waived.

The “Bild” newspaper has now reported that over 200,000 euros in cash were found in a bank safe deposit box last year belonging to the former member of the Bundestag Johannes Kahrs, who is being investigated.

The responsible public prosecutor’s office in Cologne could not initially be reached for a statement. The journalist Oliver Schröm, who is writing a book on the case (“The Scholz Files”), told the Tagesspiegel that he was aware of the central investigative documents and that the information was correct. “Specifically, it was 214,800 euros and then another 2,400 US dollars that were found in the locker.”

During a house search at Kahrs, a rental agreement for a locker at the Hamburger Sparkasse was found, a search warrant for this was obtained from the investigating judge and the locker was opened on September 28, 2021, emphasized Schröm.

Kahrs himself did not respond to a Tagesspiegel request. At the beginning of May 2020, he surprisingly resigned from all offices and withdrew from federal and state politics.

The experienced networker and longtime head of the Seeheimer Kreis is considered a possible key figure in the affair in the Hamburg SPD. Scholz is scheduled to testify a second time before the investigative committee of the citizenship on August 19.

Allegedly with the participation of Kahrs, the mayor Scholz met the shareholders of the bank, Christian Olearius and Max Warburg, in 2016 and 2017. Scholz says he can no longer remember the content of the meetings. At that time, investigations were already underway against Olearius on suspicion of serious tax evasion.

After the first meeting, the tax office initially waived additional tax claims in the amount of 47 million euros when the statute of limitations expired in 2016 – political influence is vehemently denied by those responsible for politics.

A further 43 million euros were only requested in 2017 after an intervention by the Federal Ministry of Finance, then led by Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) – such an instruction to a federal state is an extremely rare occurrence. Finance Senator in the Hanseatic city at the time was Peter Tschentscher (SPD), who later succeeded Scholz in the office of First Mayor after Scholz moved to the head of the Federal Ministry of Finance.

“Against the background of this massively condensed chain of evidence, not only Mr. Kahrs, but also Mr. Tschentscher and Mr. Scholz must now disclose all facts that could somehow be related to the Cum Ex fraud,” Middelberg told the Tagesspiegel. “Mr. Kahrs in particular now has to completely clarify the origin of the 200,000 euros. Otherwise, it must be assumed that these funds have a dark background.”

The left-wing politician Fabio de Masi, who has dealt intensively with the case, told the Tagesspiegel: “The locker is explosive for the Chancellor”. Keeping more than 200,000 euros in cash in a locker can only have one reason. “Apparently Kahrs didn’t want an electronic data trail on his account.”

It must be clarified, for example, whether the Social Democrat accepted money from the Warburg Bank that does not appear in the books alongside the known party donations. There are many unanswered questions, including for Scholz, said de Masi. “This affair has the potential to overthrow the chancellor.” The SPD leadership did not want to comment on request, the chancellery initially left an inquiry as to whether Scholz asked Kahrs to explain the origin of the money unanswered.

In view of the numerous publications and proceedings, the shareholders of the Hamburg Warburg Bank, Max Warburg and Christian Olearius, feel that their human rights have been violated and are therefore taking them to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The court, which is based in Strasbourg, has accepted a corresponding “individual complaint” from Olearius and Warburg “for the main examination”, the lawyer for the two, Peter Gauweiler, announced last week. A spokesman for the court confirmed when asked that Olearius and Warburg “have filed an application against Germany and that the proceedings are currently pending”.