E.In an audience of millions, Bauhaus comes into the living room every day. The DIY store operator has secured the last advertising seconds shortly before the “Tagesschau”. His slogan “If it has to be good” seeps into many minds at prime time. The company is not at a loss for PR campaigns either: for the company’s sixtieth anniversary, Bauhaus announced that it would plant a million trees. Even the Federal Government’s “Forest Commissioner” came to Mannheim last summer for this reason.
Business correspondent Rhein-Neckar-Saar based in Mainz.
Now the company has again received a state visit, but from tax investigators. The “corporate headquarters” in Mannheim was searched twice, in 2018 and 2020. After research by the FAZ, Bauhaus has now admitted the investigations. “Reduction of corporate taxes from 2007 to 2018” is the allegation, specifically tax fraud. The adjustment of “complex and legally difficult to assess offsets between group companies” is in dispute. These facts have long been known to the tax audit. In addition, you cooperate fully with the investigators. Incidentally, the presumption of innocence applies and one is confident that the proceedings will end soon.
The fact that the Mannheim-based public prosecutor’s office for white-collar crime has been investigating white-collar crime for so long and even expanded the procedure in the previous year shows the complexity of the case. The public prosecutor’s office had always rejected comments with reference to tax secrecy.
Complicated construction of holdings, intermediate holding companies, service companies
As aggressively as Bauhaus sells itself in advertising, the company does not reveal anything else about itself. He operates 278 stores, 153 of them in Germany. The specialist publisher Dähne estimates sales at 6.8 billion euros – that’s it. Bauhaus, founded and made big by the Mannheim entrepreneur Heinz-Georg Baus, is not transparent to outsiders. The complicated structure of holdings, intermediate holding companies, service companies in Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg, allegedly also in the Dutch Antilles and Hong Kong, has been chosen deliberately. The building, who died in 2016, was not only one of the first self-made billionaires in Germany, he was also on the run from the wheel throughout his life, not even a handful of photos of him are publicly known.
The carpenter’s son had already moved his home and company headquarters to Switzerland at the end of the sixties. In 1969 he moved to Thun in the canton of Bern, the holding company Interbauhausholding, he placed in Zug. In the meantime he moved to Monaco, to the noble quarter of Les Ligures. At the end of 2014, he moved the holding company to Belp near Bern, where the tax authorities were a bit more courteous. Instead of bequeathing the company, he set up a foundation in Austria before his death. Today only the Bauhaus AG Service Center Germany officially resides in Mannheim, the Bauhaus AG in Belp operates as a stock corporation under Swiss law. With just 60 employees, it is considered the control center.
Since Baus’ death, none of the people involved have made public statements about the company. Not even son Bernd, who holds a prominent position as a member of the board of directors. The Chairman of the Board of Directors is the Swiss lawyer Peter Lutz. Tax constructs should not be far from him, as he operates as the “President of the self-regulatory organization for combating money laundering of the Swiss Bar Association and the Swiss Notary Association.”