It would be a spectacular performance, the like of which has never been seen before in the history of the Bundestag: Three prisoners on remand will testify before a parliamentary inquiry committee. And this in what is probably the biggest financial scandal in the Federal Republic of Germany: the collapse of the financial services provider Wirecard. On Thursday, former CEO Markus Braun as well as former managers Stephan Freiherr von Erffa and Oliver Bellenhaus are scheduled to testify before the parliamentary committee.
However, according to SPIEGEL information, there is likely to be legal wrangling over the summons for the three detainees. Because Braun’s lawyers refuse to allow their client to appear in person in Berlin. Braun would have to be transported from Stadelheim Prison to the capital. In the event of Braun’s forced appearance, defence attorney Alfred Dierlamm announces that he “intends to take legal action against this”, as he writes in a letter to the secretariat of the investigative committee, which has been submitted to SPIEGEL. The imprisoned Wirecard boss is afraid of Corona, but there is resistance among the members of the committee, especially the three representatives of the Greens, the Left Party and the FDP. The three parliamentarians write to the other members of the committee that they insist that “an interrogation in the presence of witnesses in the courtroom is necessary”. They do not want to accept the argument of the Braun lawyers, who argue that their client has a high risk of corona infection as well as the high cost of transportation.
Already with the statement of the “Financial Times” journalist Dan McCrum last week, who arrived from London, a corresponding agreement with the Berlin Senate had been made. A personal appearance is important, “especially for assessing the credibility of a witness”. The committee wants to get “an immediate impression” of “his entire behaviour, including his body language”, according to MEPs Fabio de Masi (left), Florian Toncar (FDP) and Danyal Bayaz (Greens), who assumed that “this will continue to be seen as such by the other parliamentary groups”. At the request of the SPIEGEL magazine, an SPD spokesperson confirmed that there was “an interfactional consensus” that the witnesses should testify in person. “The committee secretariat is preparing this accordingly,” said the SPD spokesman. Thus, it is likely to result in a legal dispute that will probably not be decided before Thursday.
The public prosecutor’s office also has reservationsResistance to appearing in person is also offered by the public prosecutor’s office in Munich, which is responsible for the preliminary proceedings. In addition to the corona pandemic, it apparently cites as a further argument the concern that the three Wirecard prisoners might meet and reach agreements. The MEPs counter this: “The German Bundestag should have the possibility to ensure that the three witnesses do not meet each other on November 19” The interest of the parliamentarians, however, is justified. For the insolvency of the Wirecard Group also raises critical questions for politicians. On the one hand, there is the issue of supervision by subordinate authorities of the Federal Ministry of Finance and Economics. Above all, the opposition is interested in the role of SPD Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz.
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