In the heated argument about failures in the fight against money laundering, the state secretary of the Federal Finance Minister and SPD candidate for chancellor Olaf Scholz, Wolfgang Schmidt, is now also being targeted by the investigation. A spokesman for the Osnabrück public prosecutor’s office told the FAZ on Tuesday that “essential parts of the search warrant” were published on the Twitter account of the SPD politician Schmidt, on the basis of which the Osnabrück residents reported grievances at the Financial Intelligence Unit in the Federal Ministry of Finance last Thursday ( FIU).
Schmidt is a fully qualified lawyer himself. The Berlin newspaper Tagesspiegel first reported on the investigation against him. On request, the Osnabrück public prosecutor’s office explained that the investigations against Schmidt are being carried out on suspicion of violation of official secrets under Section 353b of the Criminal Code and on suspicion of prohibited communications about court hearings under Section 353d. Since the alleged crime scene is in Berlin, the investigations were handed over to the Berlin public prosecutor’s office on Monday immediately after the proceedings were initiated.
On Tuesday evening, Wolfgang Schmidt spoke again on Twitter. This time, to defend himself “I am confident that the allegations can be quickly dispelled.” He justified the publication by stating that the public had the impression that “federal ministries are being investigated against employees. This false impression made it necessary for the public to be able to get an idea of the facts for themselves. “
For years complaints about omissions at the FIU
The background to the case are grievances at the FIU in Cologne, a unit for combating money laundering. Scholz’s predecessor, Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), had separated the FIU from the Federal Criminal Police Office and slammed it into customs. Since then, the Federal Ministry of Finance has been responsible for overseeing the unit.
For years, however, there have been complaints that banks are reporting large numbers of suspicious cash flows and that these reports are not properly processed by the FIU and passed on to law enforcement officers. In one case, a bank that suspected illegal business was behind transfers of millions to Africa later asked the Osnabrück public prosecutor to find out what happened to their report. It turned out that the FIU had never forwarded the report to Osnabrück. The public prosecutor’s office is therefore investigating the suspicion of thwarting punishment in the office.
Scholz claimed on Sunday in the chancellor candidate “Triell” by ARD and ZDF that the Osnabrück prosecutors investigated the suspicion that “one or two employees” in Cologne “did not work properly”. “It has nothing to do with the ministry.”
According to the public prosecutor’s office, the investigations are directed against “those responsible for the FIU”, but this is a so-called UJS procedure. So there are still no accused by name, but an investigation is being carried out against unknown persons.
Extensive communication with the von Scholz house
During the investigation, however, the Federal Ministry of Finance is also in view, because the public prosecutors at the FIU have found extensive communication with von Scholz’s house. “We determine whether there are suspects at the FIU, but possibly also in other places,” said the public prosecutor’s office at the request of the FAZ. The questions are: “What was the reason for not processing the ad? Who decided that? “
In a press release from the public prosecutor’s office, it was even said that it was a matter of “whether and, if so, to what extent the management and those responsible for the ministries” were involved in the decisions. This press release is viewed critically in the SPD, especially since the head of the Osnabrück public prosecutor’s office is a veteran CDU man.
The search in the Ministry of Finance two weeks before the election is also viewed critically by the SPD; a request for the files to be handed over would have been the milder means. The CDU accuses the SPD of raising doubts about the independence of the judiciary with such criticism. In addition, she accuses Scholz of not having put an end to the overtaxing of the FIU during his term of office. Scholz countered that under his aegis, the FIU was increased from 160 to almost 500, and soon even 700 employees.