German lawmaker fined €20,000 for connections with Azerbaijan
Earlier this year, Bundestag reprimanded lawmaker Karin Strenz over her violation of the parliamentary code of conduct. On Friday, March 15, German media reported that Bundestag has made a decision to impose the most severe type of sanction available and that Strenz will have to pay a fine of about €20,000.
Also Friday, Transparency Germany, Transparency International’s national chapter, said it has filed a criminal complaint against Strenz (Christian Democratic Union of Germany, CDU) and the former Bundestag member Eduard Lintner (Christian Social Union in Bavaria, CSU) in an alleged bribery case orchestrated by the Azerbaijani government. The watchdog has asked the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Berlin to determine if the two politicians violated the German Criminal Code’s section 108e on bribery and corruption of elected officials.
The evidence for the criminal complaint stems from the leaked bank records from 2012 to 2014 that were analysed by the Organized Crime and Corruption Project. Investigative journalists revealed that the Azerbaijani ruling elite operated a US$3 million slush fund and a money laundering scheme to, among other things, bribe politicians to water down critical human rights resolutions and election observation reports. At the centre of the scheme was the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), where Strenz and Lintner were delegates.
The Azerbaijani Laundromat revelations shook Europe when they were published in 2017. The independent investigation set up in the wake of the scandal determined that Eduard Lintner lobbied in favour of the Azerbaijani government, while Karin Strenz’s involvement in PACE’s work on Azerbaijan was tainted by a conflict of interest. They were both banned for life from the Council of Europe and the premises of the Assembly. Further, PACE asked national authorities of all offending delegates – including Germany – to follow up on the allegations of corruption, take the necessary measures with respect to specified cases and report back to the Assembly by the end of the 2018.
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