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Scandal-plagued German politician Walther Leisler Kiep passes away

The 90-year-old CDU member had been party treasurer for twenty years. His tenure finally came to an end amidst a donation scandal in the early 90s.

Walter Leisler Kiep, a longtime financial mind for Germany's Christian Democrats (CDU), died on Monday at the age of 90. At one time minister of the economy and later of finance in Lower Saxony, Kiep was also the treasurer of the party for over twenty years before being engulfed in a donation scandal that cut short his career.

His son told the press that his father had passed away after suffering a brief but acute illness at his family home in Kronberg im Taunus, in the German state of Hesse.

Kiep was born in 1926 and as a young man joined the Wehrmacht and the Nazi party, who would later execute Kiep's uncle as a dissident. After the war he worked a series of business positions, including sitting on the board of directors at Volkswagen.

He joined the center-right CDU in 1961 and quickly rose through the party ranks, being elected to Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, in 1965. After being re-elected twice, he switched to state-level politics in the Lower Saxony region where he served as minister of the economy and then finance.

From 1971 until 1992, he served as the treasurer of the CDU at the federal level, until it was revealed that he and some colleagues had amassed millions in illegal donations and evaded the party's taxes. After several trials over tax evasion, he was compelled to pay a fine of 75,000 euro in 2004. The scandal saw the leading CDU personalities of the 1990s, such as Helmut Kohl and Wolfgang Schäuble, wane in political influence. This made way for figures like Angela Merkel in the party's spotlight.

es/bw (dpa, AFP)

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