21 September 2021 in Geopolitics


On the morning of 20 September 2021, Federal Finance Minister and Social Democratic candidate for the Chancellery, Olaf Scholz, appeared before the Finance Committee of the Bundestag to answer accusatory questions from his colleagues about a scandal raised by the criminal investigation of the Osnabrück public prosecutor’s office[1], which had ordered a search of the Federal Ministry’s offices and those of the FIU in the previous days[2], after having already ordered one for the exact same reason in July 2020[3].

Six days before the vote. This is an unprecedented turn of events in the history of the Federal Republic, because the leadership of the Osnabrück public prosecutor’s office is firmly in the hands of the CDU[4] (in Germany the judiciary is officially politicised), and this haste is evidently an extreme attempt to discredit Scholz’s candidacy for the Chancellery, given that all the agencies give him a clear advantage[5].

This fact cannot go unnoticed. The accusation of the Christian Democrat magistrates is that two employees of the Federal FIU withheld important information in cases of suspected money laundering of criminal origin – and the FIU is an agency under the Federal Ministry of Finance, which is headed by Olaf Scholz[6].

With the information at my disposal I cannot know whether these accusations correspond to the truth or not, but of other things I am certain:

  1. a) the modern state is in dire need of a specialised police unit that deals professionally (on a criminal level) with financial crime, of which money laundering is only one possible offence. In Germany this unit does not exist (despite the fact that the Italians, British, French and Spanish have for many years demonstrated its importance and efficiency), because when it came to taking a stand on the matter in 2009, the then Federal Minister of Finance, Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), fiercely and combatively opposed the creation of such a unit – and the SPD, like the other parties, in the eight years Schäuble remained in office, accepted things as they were[7];

Bernard Südbeck, head of the Osnabrück public prosecutor’s office

  1. b) there are two offices that, officially, should replace the absence of the fiscal police. The first one is the BaFin (Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht), which has been suspected of inefficiency for years and has been under investigation for over a year, since the former head of the analogous Swiss structure, the controversial Mark Branson, has been at its head, accused (against some managers) of having used confidential information to participate in illegal financial operations. The BaFin is also under the control of the Federal Ministry of Finance, and the problems started when Wolfgang Schäuble was the head of this ministry[8];
  2. c) the other office is the FIU Financial Intelligence Unit, an agency created in 1995 on the international initiative of the so-called Egmont Group, i.e. by national police forces who wanted to create a legal channel for the exchange of information on financial crime that would avoid the constraints of national criminal jurisdiction laws. For this reason, the FIU functions poorly and badly, is under-equipped, has no powers, can only give advice and exchange information. In one famous case, that of Vatican City, the local FIU, then headed by the Swiss René Brühlhart, served to let the Pope’s bankers know the details of criminal investigations against them around the world[9]. Exactly what is being reproached today at the German FIU;
  3. d) attacking the Minister because the FIU gets exactly what it was created for (i.e. nothing with criminal consequences) is a propaganda move that conceals an indisputable fact. To this fact must be added that the German judiciary is not subject to the obligation of investigation (as in Italy) and, therefore, from time to time, according to criteria that are not transparent at all (the assertion of a prosecutor that a certain criminal investigation would cost too much money to the treasury is enough to stop any prosecution) the justice pursues or not a criminal depending on the specific interests of a certain local prosecutor.

My assessment of the facts: the attack on Scholz is rubbish. No one, neither CDU nor SPD, is blameless. The debate, thus launched, will prevent the only right thing to do: to question, once and for all, the politicisation of the German judiciary and force the parties to set up a specialised unit to combat financial crime along the lines of the Italian Guardia di Finanza or the English Serious Fraud Office.


[1] https://www.zdf.de/nachrichten/heute-19-uhr/befragung-scholz-finanzausschuss-video-100.html

[2] https://www.staatsanwaltschaft-osnabrueck.niedersachsen.de/startseite/aktuelles/presseinformationen/durchsuchungen-im-bundesministerium-der-finanzen-und-im-bundesministerium-der-justiz-und-fur-verbraucherschutz-204031.html

[3] https://www.spiegel.de/panorama/justiz/verdacht-auf-strafvereitelung-ermittler-gehen-gegen-zoll-spezialeinheit-fiu-vor-a-8d657c7f-f570-4a16-85c0-82134da79905

[4] https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/olaf-scholz-durchsuchung-im-finanzministerium-1.5412941

[5] https://www.wahlrecht.de/umfragen/

[6] https://www.spiegel.de/panorama/justiz/verdacht-auf-strafvereitelung-ermittler-gehen-gegen-zoll-spezialeinheit-fiu-vor-a-8d657c7f-f570-4a16-85c0-82134da79905

[7] https://www.wiwo.de/politik/deutschland/vorsitzender-der-gewerkschaft-der-polizei-die-politik-will-nicht-wirksam-gegen-geldwaesche-vorgehen/22662622.html ; https://sven-giegold.de/geldwaesche-bekaempfung-schaeuble-darf-nicht-von-eigenen-versaeumnissen-ablenken/ ; https://mafianeindanke.de/im-kampf-gegen-geldwaesche-und-terrorismusfinanzierung-die-fiu-wechselt-zum-zollkriminalamt/

[8] https://www.manager-magazin.de/politik/deutschland/wirecard-staatsanwaltschaft-frankfurt-leitet-ermittlungsverfahren-gegen-bafin-ein-a-006e7db2-3cf2-4e8a-9024-6a615516f099 ; https://www.sueddeutsche.de/wirtschaft/wirecard-bafin-ermittlungen-1.5262378

[9] http://ibiworld.eu/2021/02/15/golfo-persico-la-guerra-dopo-larmistizio/ ; https://www.adnkronos.com/scandalo-vaticano-brulhart-siamo-davanti-a-un-abbaglio-processuale_1owYr1eWGAzc6IjJQOjLnY

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