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Dubious donations

February 18, 2011

A newspaper report says Germany's largest producer of gambling machines has used a political loophole to pad the pockets of politicians. The report said over a million euros had been 'donated' in the past two decades.

Piles of money at a casino
Donations under 10,000 euros flowed unabated and undeclaredImage: Sulamith

According to a report published in Friday's Süddeutsche Zeitung, German political parties have been accepting undeclared donations from the country's largest gambling concern, Gauselmann AG, for years.

The report said that CEO Paul Gauselmann had been sending the donations to parliamentarians from four main political parties since 1990 with the intention of establishing "understanding" for the gambling sector among lawmakers and leading politicians.

The cumulative amount of the donations was estimated at well over one million euros. In years during which federal elections were held, the donations totaled around 70,000 euros ($95,200). In other years, the amounts were closer to 50,000.

Dubious donations

Technically, the donations are not illegal. Under German law, individual donations under 10,000 euros do not have to be declared in official party accounting logs.

The donations, however, were made under an array of names, including those of numerous company employees and even from members of Gauselmann's family, prompting suspicion that the 76-year-old had attempted to keep the contributions secret.

In response to the publication of Friday's report, the conservative parliamentary group (CDU) in the German parliament said it would investigate the nature of the Gauselmann donations, adding that it had alerted Bundestag administrators over the affair.

Social Democrat (SPD) treasurer Barbara Hendricks said action would be taken if it could be proven that Gauselmann deliberately attempted to circumvent regulations.

Author: Gabriel Borrud (dpa, AP)
Editor: Nancy Isenson