"Peace in Our Time"
The last days of King Kohl
Neue Vorwürfe in der
France pursues Elf corruption
France has issued an international arrest warrant for German businessman Dieter Holzer in connection with the 1992 purchase of east German oil group Leuna by Elf-Aquitaine, a French state prosecutor said on Friday.
Holzer, 58, confirmed in February that he had received a $23 million commission, equivalent to 0.8 percent of the $2.6 billion sale price for the Leuna oil refinery.
But he denied passing on any of the money in the form of bribes to German politicians or as kickbacks to managers at French oil company Elf, which was later taken over by the Total group.
According to the newspaper Le Monde, France issued the warrant after police, seeking to question Holzer, failed to find him at his house in Monaco.
Holzer is also the target of a criminal investigation by Swiss state prosecutors into alleged fraud and money laundering in connection with the deal.
Loik Le Floch-Prigent, the head of Elf-Aquitaine from 1989 to 1993, said in March that late French President Francois Mitterrand knew of and tolerated irregular payments.
Earlier this year, French sources told German television that Mitterrand had ordered the payment of $15 million in connection with the deal to fund former Chancellor Helmut Kohl's 1994 successful general election campaign.
Kohl, whose reputation as the architect of German unity has been tarnished by a funding scandal surrounding his Christian Democratic party, has angrily denied any allegations of wrongdoing over the Elf refinery deal.
Paris judges refused access to bribes documents
The French customs authorities have refused to let judges investigating large scale misuse of funds at Elf, the French oil group, see documents detailing bribes paid by the company to secure foreign contracts between 1989-93.
The refusal on the grounds of national security was disclosed yesterday by Le Monde, the French newspaper. It is the latest twist in the long-running investigation by Paris judges into the large-scale misuse of funds at Elf under the controversial leadership of Loik Le Floch-Prigent.
Among the documents refused to the judges were those concerning commissions on the 1992 attempt to purchase the Leuna refinery in East Germany.
The judges have now written to Laurent Fabius, finance minister, seeking for the block on the documents to be lifted. But a five-person consultative committee on national security clearance, set up in 1998 by Lionel Jospin's government, will first have to rule on the case. This could take up to two months.
Elf's plan to buy Leuna refinery and invest up to FFr2obn ($2.8bn) was reportedly approved by the then French president, Francois Mitterrand, and Helmut Kohl, German chancellor. In January it emerged that secret commissions worth FFr300m paid to secure this deal had ended up mainly in the hands of officials close to the Christian Democratic Union party of Chancellor Kohl.
So far there has been no evidence to show the French and German leaders were directly aware of these payments.
Another archive to which the Paris judges have been denied access concerns Elfs purchase in 1991 of Ertoil. Some FFr400m reportedly passed hands during this deal under Spain's former, socialist government of Felipe Gonzalez.
The refusal followed a request on August 3 to the director-general of customs for the release of all documents regarding commissions registered by Elf under Mr Le Floch-Prigent's management from 1989 to 1993.
Commissions on foreign contracts once registered with the customs, under the control of the Finance Ministry, were tax-deductible.
Successive French governments have accepted that "commissions" are often essential to secure foreign contracts. To ensure French companies competed successfully, a special secret register was set up which allowed these commissions to be treated as business expenses.
Mr Le Floch-Prigent, who faces a string of corruption charges, has claimed the late President Mitterrand was shown these lists.
Analysts said that if the Jospin government decided to keep the dossiers under wraps it would undermine last month's legislation bringing France into line with international practice on commissions.
Ur DN 2000-07-14
Svaren på de frågor Tysklands förre förbundskansler Helmut Kohl vägrar besvara söks nu i Frankrike. Det förbundsdagsutskott som utreder den så kallade partibidragsskandalen har kallat en före detta chef i det statliga franska oljebolaget Elf Aquitaine som vittne.
André Tarallo, tidigare Elfs representant i den afrikanska staten Gabon, har inför franska undersökningsdomare berättat om hur bolaget på order av Frankrikes regering betalade omfattande mutor till Kohl och hans kristdemokratiska parti CDU.
Elf Aquitaine fungerade under den franske presidenten Franois Mitterands år vid makten, och innan bolaget privatiserades år 1994, som ett slags olaglig penningsluss - avsedd att dirigera statliga pengar till personer som det enligt regeringen fanns skäl att belöna.
Till dessa hörde inte minst regeringens egna medlemmar.
De franska undersökningsdomarnas arbete har frambringat en mängd mer eller mindre löst grundade uppgifter om hur mutor har betalats ut. Men först med André Tarallos vittnesmål kommer sådana uppgifter från bolagets innersta kretsar.
Han hävdar att Elf systematiskt mutade afrikanska ledare vilkas tjänster bolaget kunde behöva. Han hävdar också att mutpengar på Mitterands uppdrag slussades till Helmut Kohls regering.
Nästan en halv miljard kronor skulle ha betalats ut i samband med det franska köpet 1992 av oljeraffinaderiet i den tyska staden Leuna. Pengar skulle också ha betalats ut till Helmut Kohl för att säkra hans återval i valet 1994.
Uppgifterna har tidigare kommit från andra källor, och Helmut Kohl har energiskt förnekat dem.
Tarallos vittnesmål har tänt en strimma av hopp hos den socialdemokratiska och gröna delen av förbundsdagsutskottet i Berlin. Dessa har kört fast i Kohls vägran att besvara frågor och sin egen oförmåga att tvinga honom att svara.
- Om denne man är beredd att vittna för oss, i Tyskland eller i Frankrike, skulle det innebära ett stort steg framåt, säger de Grönas utskottsrepresentant Christian Ströbele.
Det är långtifrån säkert att Tarallo är beredd att göra det. Därmed skulle det falla på den tyska åklagarmyndigheten att försöka reda ut partibidragsaffären.
De franska undersökningsdomarna fortsätter att lägga pussel kring Elf Aquitaine och den korruptionsskandal som enligt alla tecken är en av landets mest omfattande någonsin.
could throw light on slush fund scandal
A decade after reunification, east Germany's notorious Stasi is threatening to return from the grave to haunt the man who helped to bury them.
Lawyers for Helmut Kohl could this week gain access to details of phone taps made for years by the east German ministry of state security on the former chancellor and chairman of the Christian Democratic Union.
The material, which might once have been of only historical interest, has turned into political dynamite after Mr Kohl's admission last year that he had contravened Germany's party funding laws by operating secret bank accounts in parallel to the CDU's official finances.
But while Mr Kohl owned up to breaking the rules - provoking an internal crisis from which the CDU is only just recovering - he sought to limit his responsibility. Although he admitted to accepting up to DM2m between 1993 and 1998, Mr Kohl denied the money had influenced decisions during his 16 year chancellorship.
And he disputed any precise knowledge of the CDU's parallel accounting system or the existence of secret Swiss bank accounts.
With the former chancellor stonewalling attempts to oblige him to say more, including divulging the identities of the donors whose names he says he has promised never to reveal, Mr Kohl may have calculated matters would end there. A blot on his copybook, for sure, but hardly a significant stigma for the architect of reunification and father of the euro.
This month, however, a new threat has emerged as attempts by journalists to discover alternative sources of information have begun to bear fruit.
Fewer have been more fecund than the Stasi. "The ministry of state security had up to 25,000 employees in Berlin alone," says Peter Busse, deputy head of the special agency created after reunification to handle Stasi dossiers. "There were about 90,000 full time employees, supplemented by up to 180,000 part time agents".
Over the years, the massive workforce compiled reams of material. According to one recent report, Mr Kohl first came to the Stasi's attention as a politically active 20 year old. He remained in its sights ever since.
Home and office phones were bugged, as well as mobile communications. Quite how much the Stasi discovered about the former chancellor's level of knowledge about his party's financial irregularities may lie in the 40m index cards and 180kms of shelving administered by Mr Busse's agency.
Since its creation in the early 1990s, the body, which employs about 2,700 people, has processed little more than half the material, he says.
In the early years after reunification, the agency was often in the news unmasking ex-Stasi collaborators who had gone on to make careers in democratic politics. It is still used for obligatory background checks on applicants for sensitive public sector jobs, such as the police and judiciary. And the agency continues to receive about 12,000 inquiries a month from individuals wanting to check their own files.
But it is doubtful whether any of agency's tasks to date has the potential impact of the Kohl case.
The former chancellor appears to be on firm moral ground in his determination to prevent any Stasi material leaking out. The information was gathered illegally, making it worthless in court.
Even the special committee set up in January by the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, to investigate the CDU's slush fund scandal said it would not touch Stasi material.
In an interview last Sunday, Gerhard Schröder, the chancellor, also said the Stasi files should be disregarded.
Practically, however, Mr Kohl's position may be weaker. His threat to argue the case right up to Germany's highest court has reinforced the impression that he may have something to hide.
Moreover, while German law protects the individual's right to privacy, the legislation creating the Stasi agency recognised prominent people, such as politicians, were a special case. And that law itself was drawn up by Mr Kohl's government.
East Germans have been particularly opposed to bending the rules for the former chancellor. Thousands lost their jobs after 1990 because of compromising information contained in the files. Why should the rules be different for now, they argue.
Mr Busse, a former top civil servant in the west German interior ministry, tries to treat the case dispassionately. He says Mr Kohl will have access to any material well before it is made available to the public. Any references to sensitive issues, such as a person's private life, will be suppressed. And the material may all turn out to be routine, he argues.
Whatever the contents, however, the prospect of access even to filleted Kohl files has proved tantalising to the media. Even some members of the Bundestag committee are beginning to shift their ground. Mr Busse's agency may be about to regain a prominence not seen since straight after reunification.
The American Institute for Contemporary German
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