Saturday, May 15, 2021

German lawmaker accused of bribery over COVID masks deal

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Conservative lawmaker Georg Nüsslein faces accusations he received €660,000 to lobby for a mask supplier. The Bundestag voted unanimously to lift his immunity.

Investigators raided 13 properties in Germany and Liechtenstein linked to a member of parliament over allegations of corruption, prosecutors in Munich confirmed on Thursday.

Georg Nüsslein, from Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative alliance, is facing accusations of bribery from a coronavirus medical masks supplier.

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The Bundestag, the lower house of Germany’s parliament, voted unanimously to lift his immunity on Thursday.

“In the Nüsslein case, the judiciary must now do its job,” a member of the Bundestag’s immunity committee, Marco Buschmann, said on Twitter.

‘A very serious accusation’

Georg Nüsslein allegedly lobbied the government to contract a medical masks supplier last year. Media reports suggest that he received €660,000 ($800,000) in return.

The funds were transferred to a company that Nüsslein manages, which did not declare taxes on the revenues, according to German broadcaster RTL.

“If there is even the suspicion that a member of the German Bundestag personally benefited from the coronavirus crisis, then this is a very serious, grave accusation that must be comprehensively clarified,” Social Democrat Katja Mast said on Twitter.

Parties call for transparency measures
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Lawmakers piled with criticism on Nüsslein, member of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister-party to Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU).

Nüsslein has been a member of parliament since 2002 and has served as the deputy head of the conservatives parliamentary group since 2014.

Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) called for stricter measures to maintain transparency and prevent corruption by lawmakers.

The SPD demanded mandatory disclosure of MPs investments, annual income and lobby registers for the Bundestag and the federal government.

The parliamentary manager of the Left Party, Jan Korte, also called for prohibiting MPs from becoming paid lobbyists.

Last year, another MP from Merkel’s party came under fire for lobbying for a US start-up, as the topic became increasingly controversial in the Bundestag.

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