Germany bars ex-foreign minister from job with Polish firm | News | DW | 16.08.2019
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Germany bars ex-foreign minister from job with Polish firm

Berlin has reportedly banned Sigmar Gabriel from taking a position on the supervisory board at a Polish investment firm. But an alleged attempt by the US ambassador to keep him from another job seems to have failed.

A Luxembourg-based financial concern, Kulczyk Holding, was interested in hiring German politician Sigmar Gabriel on its supervisory board, but the move was blocked by the German government, German officials said.

The news emerged from a government response to to an enquiry by Left party lawmaker Lorenz Gösta Beutin, which was seen by several local media outlets.

The opposition deputy slammed the contact between Gabriel and the company, saying that the former minister presented "an image of being for sale."

Gabriel headed Germany's economy ministry between December 2013 and January 2017, when he moved to head the foreign ministry. He remained Germany's top diplomat until March 2018. Gabriel also served as Germany's Vice Chancellor between 2013 and 2018.

Kulczyk people 'unserious'

After leaving cabinet, Gabriel mulled taking a job with Kulczyk Holding, the investment company founded by late Polish billionaire Jan Kulczyk.

On Friday, Gabriel told the AFP news agency that he "strictly" followed the rules and informed the cabinet about his interest in a position on the firm's supervisory board in September last year.

However, he claims to have broken off the talks after making contact with the Kulczyk Holding. The company's representatives appeared "unserious," he said.

By that time, however, the government's inquiry was already ongoing and in November last year, Gabriel was officially told he was not allowed to take the job for another 12 months.

Moving from politics to business is a sensitive topic in Germany. Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder prompted massive criticism by taking jobs in Russia's energy sector.

Former German ministers can be barred from taking certain jobs for up to 18 months after leaving office if the position compromises the "public interest."

US envoy vs. Gabriel

In June this year, Gabriel became the head of the "Atlantic Bridge" a prominent Berlin-based private association that works on strengthening ties between Germany and the US.

Watch video 01:55

US criticizes Germany over defense spending

However, he reportedly also faced opposition before making the move. On Friday, the news magazine Spiegel reported that Richard Grenell, the US ambassador to Berlin, intervened in an attempt to prevent Gabriel's from getting the prestigious job.

That intervention was unsuccessful, Spiegel reported, adding that the ambassador refused to comment on the story.

dj/rt (AFP, dpa)
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