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Germany

Germany's super-rich rebuff Gates' charity scheme

Some of Germany's wealthiest citizens have criticized a philanthropic campaign started by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, saying charitable spending is best left to the government.

A woman carries shopping bags and sunglasses

Germany's well-heeled citizens aren't enthusiastic about giving away their wealth

In his attempt to convince the world's rich to donate at least 50 percent of their fortunes to charity, Microsoft founder Bill Gates reportedly approached some of Germany's wealthiest people but has so far been rebuffed.

The Gates' campaign is "too garish," an asset manager told German news magazine Der Spiegel, asking to remain anonymous. Hamburg multimillionaire Peter Kraemer said the initiative was "highly problematic" and suggested that Germany's wealthy find other ways to donate.

Gates launched his campaign, known as The Giving Pledge, with investor Warren Buffet in June. The campaign was initially intended to encourage wealthy Americans to donate at least 50 percent of their wealth to charitable causes, but has since gone global.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates

The Gates Foundation has given away nearly $23 billion since 1994

Gates said this week that he and Buffet have scheduled meetings with some of the wealthiest people in China and India in the coming months.

Forty billionaires have so far pledged to donate at least half of their fortunes to charity, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Hollywood director George Lucas and Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim.

Based on a Forbes magazine estimate of the billionaires' wealth, at least $150 billion (112.9 billion euros) could be given away.

'A troubling development'

In an interview with Der Spiegel, Kraemer said donations in the United States are for the most part tax deductible, giving the rich the option of contributing to charity or paying taxes. He said donations of this magnitude lead to the wealthy minority of the population rather than the government deciding on where to allocate charitable funds.

"I find this to be a troubling development," said Kramer. "Who has given these people the authority to decide where such huge amounts of money should be spent?"

Some wealthy Germans are already known to be generous donors. Co-founder of software giant SAP Dietmar Hopp finances soccer club TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and has donated assets worth about 2.9 billion euros to a foundation.

Hopp's partner Klaus Tschira has also donated more than half of his fortune to a foundation promoting science, mathematics and computer science.

Author: Martin Kuebler (AFP/epd/Reuters)
Editor: Sonia Phalnikar

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