Parliamentarians insist on personal statements from ex-Wirecard boss Braun… The members of the parliamentary committee of inquiry into the Wirecard scandal want to force the imprisoned ex-boss Braun to appear. His lawyers are likely to sue the subpoena.
It would be a spectacular performance that has never been seen before in the history of the Bundestag: three remand prisoners testify before a parliamentary committee of inquiry. And that in what is probably the biggest financial scandal in Germany: the collapse of the financial services provider Wirecard. On Thursday, ex-CEO Markus Braun and former managers Stephan Freiherr von Erffa and Oliver Bellenhaus will testify before the parliamentary body.
Parliamentarians insist on personal statements from ex-Wirecard boss Braun
But according to SPIEGEL information, there is likely to be a legal squabble about the summons of the three detainees. Because the lawyers of Braun refuse a personal appearance of their client in Berlin. Braun would have to be transported from the Stadelheim correctional facility to the capital. In the event of Braun’s forced presentation, defense attorney Alfred Dierlamm announced that he would “want to take legal action against this”, as he wrote in a letter to the secretariat of the investigative committee, which SPIEGEL had received. Rather, his client wants to make a video statement.
The arrested Wirecard boss is afraid of Corona
But resistance is stirring among the members of the committee, above all the three representatives of the Greens, the Left and the FDP. The three parliamentarians write to the other members of the committee that “an interrogation is necessary when the witnesses are present in the meeting room”. They do not want to accept the argument of the Braun lawyers, who put a high risk of corona infection for their client and the high cost of transport into the field.
A corresponding agreement had already been made with the Berlin Senate when the Financial Times journalist Dan McCrum said last week, who was traveling from London. A personal appearance is important, “especially to assess the credibility of a witness”. It is about “his entire behavior, including his body language”, of which the committee wants to make “an immediate impression”, so the MPs Fabio de Masi (left), Florian Toncar (FDP) and Danyal Bayaz (green) write on.
The three opposition politicians assumed that “the other groups will continue to see it that way”. At the request of SPIEGEL, a spokesman for the SPD confirmed that there was “an intergroup consensus” that the witnesses should testify personally. “The committee secretariat is preparing accordingly,” said the SPD spokesman. So it is likely to amount to a legal dispute that will probably not be resolved before Thursday.
The public prosecutor’s office also has concerns
The public prosecutor in Munich, which is responsible for the preliminary investigation, also offers resistance to appearing in person. In addition to the corona pandemic, she apparently lists the concern that the three Wirecard detainees might meet and make agreements as a further argument. The MPs counter this: “The German Bundestag should be able to ensure that the three witnesses do not meet on November 19th.”
There is no doubt about that, the interests of parliamentarians are justified. Because the bankruptcy of the Wirecard group also raises critical questions for politicians. On the one hand, there is supervision by subordinate authorities of the Federal Ministry of Finance and Economics. The opposition is particularly interested in the role of the SPD Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz.
In addition, there are the secret service entanglements of the group and its board member Jan Marsalek, who may have worked for the Austrian secret service and may have pursued dubious activities in Libya. In addition, the federal government and above all Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) have campaigned for Wirecard. In autumn 2019, when allegations of financial manipulation at Wirecard had already been raised, Merkel lobbied the Chinese government for the financial services provider’s market entry in China during a visit to Beijing.
Opposition politicians are foaming
All three Wirecard people invited want to make use of their right to refuse to testify in order not to incriminate themselves, they announced in writing. The FDP chairman Toncar is irritated by this announcement because one does not yet know the questions of the MPs. “Our main concern in the committee is political reappraisal and not, as in court, the question of guilt in the criminal sense,” the liberal told SPIEGEL.
His left-wing colleague De Masi definitely wants to take Braun personally into the mangle and threatens: “By the way, witnesses can also be cross-examined if they contradict each other.” The Greens chairman Bayaz appeals to the public prosecutor and defense lawyers to give up their resistance. Of course, safety must be guaranteed during transport and on site. “But so far no one has convincingly explained to me why that shouldn’t be possible,” he told SPIEGEL.
Parliamentarians insist on personal statements from ex-Wirecard boss Braun For Source: https://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/unternehmen/wirecard-parlamentarier-beharren-auf-persoenlicher-aussage-von-ex-chef-markus-braun-a-205ebf50-33c3-45d0-8949-1622218488ba