April 29, 2003
MORE EURO-SCANDAL AFOOT:
Prosecutors said on Thursday that they were dropping their probe of the massive destruction of computer data in the Chancellery just ahead of Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s departure from office, and would not lay any charges.
The prosecutors’ office in Bonn said that despite almost three years of investigations it could not prove that there was criminal intent behind the erasure of thousands of sensitive files in the weeks following the defeat of Kohl’s Christian Democratic Union in the September 1998 election.
Complaints by the new Social Democratic Party government were muted during the transition, but the issue took on new resonance a year later when prosecutors in Bavaria found financial irregularities in CDU finances. Ultimately, it was revealed that Kohl and other top Christian Democrats had maintained an elaborate system of secret bank accounts.
Of particular interest to prosecutors were links between the CDU slush funds and some $51 million in bribes that prosecutors in Switzerland and France said had been paid during the early 1990s to German Christian Democrats in connection with the privatization and sale of eastern Germany’s Leuna oil refinery.
But many of the files pertaining to the sale of the Leuna facility to France’s state-owned Elf-Aquitaine were found to be missing from the Chancellery.
Do tell. I’m sure there’s nothing to it.