Karlheinz Schreiber has disclosed the makings behind illegal donations to German political parties in the 1990s. The Canadian-German former arms dealer is on trial for fraud, bribery and tax evasion in Germany.
Schreiber admits to paying kickbacks
Schreiber's lawyer read out a statement in court on Wednesday alleging that the Christian Social Union (CSU) alone received some 1.4 million deutschmarks (715,800 euros or $1 million) in 1991 from a slush fund managed by Schreiber.
According to the statement, Schreiber handed out over 24 million deutschmarks in kickbacks to the CSU, the Christian Democrats (CDU), the Liberal Free Democrats and the Social Democrats.
Schreiber was extradited to Germany from Canada in August 2009
Schreiber claims that the CSU had secret accounts and that the party split the donations into small amounts by using the names of dead people. That way, the party was able to cover up the kickbacks. The CSU denies the charges.
The bribes were aimed at getting approval for several arms deals, such as the export of armored tanks by the German company Thyssen to Saudi Arabia.
All talk, no action
Schreiber, who recently lost his fight against extradition to Germany from Canada, had repeatedly warned that he would reveal all and make a "big song and dance" should he be charged in Germany. But he has so far failed to prove the allegations.
Details of the scandal first came to light in 1995 and stained the reputation of the chancellor at the time, Helmut Kohl. The treasurer of the CDU, Walter Leisler Kiep, was charged with tax evasion and forced to quit his post.
The scandal widened in 1999 when the German parliament began an investigation into the CDU slush-fund affair. The CDU distanced itself from its leader Kohl, who admitted accepting illegal payments but refused to name the donors.
The trial continues. If found guilty, Schreiber faces up to 15 years in prison.
Editor: Sabina Casagrande