I.In the alleged corruption case of member of the Bundestag Georg Nüßlein (formerly CSU), the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office is now also investigating the CSU member of the state parliament and former Bavarian Minister of Justice Alfred Sauter because of the initial suspicion of bribery and bribery of mandate holders. First of all, “Der Spiegel” reported on Wednesday, the public prosecutor’s office confirmed the information provided to the FAZ, although without mentioning the name of Sauter.
Accordingly, the State Criminal Police Office searched apartments and offices in Munich and in the administrative district of Swabia, where Sauter has his constituency. The state parliament also confirmed the search of a representative’s office.
When did Sauter donate the money?
The background to the investigation is Sauter’s role in a multi-million dollar business with corona protective equipment, which a Hessian textile company had sold to the Bavarian state government, among others. At the beginning of March, Sauter had told the “Augsburger Allgemeine” that he had drawn up at least one contract for a corona mask business with the Bavarian Ministry of Health as a lawyer last year.
He found out about the delivery company “by chance” and then asked the ministry. “In my work as a lawyer, I then drew up the contract, sent it to the parties involved and discussed it with them – everything about my law firm.” As a member of parliament, he was “never involved” in this matter.
According to information from the FAZ, Sauter donated his attorney’s fee, allegedly for a charitable cause. He announced this to the party leadership on Wednesday. However, he did not provide any information about the amount of the fee, including whether it was within the normal range. According to the “Süddeutscher Zeitung”, it could total around one million euros, which Sauter should receive in whole or in part or which has already flowed to him.
Nor did Sauter say when exactly he donated the money. According to FAZ information, it was not on Wednesday, so it did not happen under the direct pressure of the investigation. For the political evaluation, however, it is interesting whether Sauter donated the money when the Nüßlein investigations were already public – or before. So far, Sauter had also invoked his legal professional confidentiality towards his own party. On Monday, when asked whether Sauter should speak out, CSU boss Markus Söder announced that there seemed to be “legal questions” that prevented that. In this respect the rules have to be changed.
On Wednesday, CSU General Secretary Markus Blume asked Sauter to return all party offices immediately. His information is inadequate and the allegations are serious. Blume threatened “all measures of party order law”. The head of the CSU parliamentary group, Thomas Kreuzer, asked Sauter to resign.
Söder demands “complete” clarification
The state parliament initiated a formal review procedure. It is about the suspicion of violating the rules of conduct for members of parliament, said state parliament president Ilse Aigner, also CSU. Söder demanded a “complete” explanation. The mask affair is now endangering citizens’ trust in democracy. There is also the risk that the CSU will be permanently damaged.
On Wednesday afternoon, Sauter joined the parliamentary group meeting, which was partially held virtually. The alleged nonchalance of his appearance irritated several members of the parliamentary group. Group leader Kreuzer is said to have made it clear to him that it was not against the parliamentary group or the party, but against him. Sauter made it clear that he considers the allegations against him to be unfounded. He not only donated the money, but also properly taxed it.
Sauter, who has been in the state parliament since 1990, is a successful lawyer. Most recently, he teamed up with Peter Gauweiler, a partner from Junge Union days, in a law firm. Sauter has long been present and powerful in the party, albeit in the background. He is still on the CSU Presidium, and the now seventy-year-old did not want to relinquish his mandate in the state parliament for a younger man.
Under Edmund Stoiber, Sauter was Minister of Justice for a short time, but he stumbled upon several affairs, such as the state housing and urban development company Bayern GmbH (LWS), which had lost hundreds of millions of marks and of which he was chairman of the supervisory board from 1993 to 1998. Sauter anticipated dismissal by resigning. At that time he felt that he had been dropped by Stoiber in particular, as a “human sacrifice”. However, this did not significantly detract from his influence in the CSU.
Sauter is considered a close confidante of the former CSU boss Horst Seehofer; both have been on vacation together several times. But Seehofer’s successor Markus Söder should also appreciate Sauter’s judgment, at least until now. Sauter comes from the same constituency as Georg Nüßlein, who is said to have received a high commission for arranging a mask business and is said not to have paid tax on it.
“CSU MPs abuse their mandate”
Specifically, Nüßlein is said to have received 660,000 euros from a businessman through one of his companies for campaigning for the same Hessian textile company at ministries and authorities. Without Sauter’s benevolence, Nüßlein would hardly have been able to run for the Bundestag, which is not overly popular in his home country.
The parliamentary group leader of the Greens in the Bavarian state parliament, Ludwig Hartmann, told the FAZ: “According to Nüßlein, the Sauter investigation and various media reports show that the CSU has a structural problem with its relationship with the economy and the state. CSU MPs abuse their mandate and prey on the state: Söder must finally clean up his shop. Or does the public prosecutor’s office always have to move in first before reacting? ”Sauter could not be reached by the FAZ on Wednesday.
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