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Germany: Money-laundering probe into far-right AfD lawmaker

May 16, 2024

Bavarian prosecutors are investigating suspected money-laundering activities by a far-right politician. The German parliament says it has lifted the political immunity of the AfD member Petr Bystron.

Petr Bystron
Petr Bystron is the second candidate on the party's election ticket in European electionsImage: Christoph Soeder/dpa/picture alliance

The Munich Public Prosecutor's Office on Thursday said it was investigating money laundering activities by a far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) lawmaker.

Separately, officials for Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, said the legislature had lifted the parliamentary immunity of AfD member Petr Bystron.

Bystron, who is the second candidate on his party's election ticket for the 2024 European elections, is under scrutiny for alleged connections with pro-Russian networks.

What we know about the searches

The prosecutor's office said searches were being conducted at several venues. These included an office in Berlin, in the Bavarian districts of Munich, Erding and Deggendorf, and on the Spanish island of Mallorca. The Munich office said 11 public prosecutors and around 60 officers from the Bavarian police force were deployed.

However, the office did not confirm the name of the individual being investigated.

A prosecutor's spokesman said properties of witnesses who were not accused in the proceedings were among the places being searched. 

The search teams aim was to seize documents and data carriers in a probe for evidence, the spokesman said.

Why is the lawmaker under scrutiny?

The allegations against Bystron have been widely reported in Czech and German media, and were a fresh blow to the AfD, which is under scrutiny over allegations that it harbors Chinese and Russian spies and agents.

The politician is in the running for the European Parliament behind top contender Maximilian Krah. Krah the subject of a subject of a preliminary investigation by German prosecutors over potential payments from Russia and China.

Germany's AfD party hit with spy scandal

German police arrested Krah's former aide Jian G. in April on suspicion of spying. Krah fired G. in the days that followed the allegations.

The party leadership has said the allegations should be investigated as soon as possible.

"So far no proof has been presented for the allegations raised against Mr. Bystron weeks ago," AfD leaders Alice Weidel and Tino Chrupalla said on Thursday in a joint statement.

The AfD has been seeking votes from opposition conservatives and was high in the opinion polls at the start of 2024. However, survey show its support has dropped since the foreign influence allegations.

rc/ab (AFP, dpa)