Coronavirus

Did Nüßlein make a dummy invoice to cover up bribes?

MdB Georg Nüßlein (CSU) in the Bundestag on February 25th

MdB Georg Nüßlein (CSU) in the Bundestag on February 25th

Bernd von Jutrczenka / picture alliance via Getty Images

When respiratory masks were in short supply in spring 2020, business people sensed the big business in the pandemic. This probably also included the chairman of the International Economic Senate, Thomas Limberger. Together with a Frankfurt lawyer, the investor founded a company in Liechtenstein in April. According to its own information, Aesculap Kontor GmbH trades goods in the field of health care, medical accessories and protective clothing. On the website, the products are limited to Corona-specific articles: protective masks, medical gloves and disinfectants.

According to information from NewsABC.net, the company plays a decisive role in the mask affair surrounding the CSU member of the Bundestag and parliamentary deputy Georg Nüßlein. The Munich public prosecutor’s office has recently been investigating the politician on suspicion of corruption in connection with the purchase of corona respirators. Accordingly, Nüßlein is said to have campaigned for various authorities and ministries for mask deliveries of the textile company L. from Hesse, for which he collected a six-figure sum.

Detail from the website aesculapkontor.com

Detail from the website aesculapkontor.com

As can now be seen from the investigation files, Nüßlein is said to have concluded a consulting contract with Aesculap Kontor GmbH, Limberger’s Liechtenstein company. In addition, in mid-2020, a company belonging to the CSU MP sent Aesculap Kontor GmbH an invoice for 660,000 euros. Investigators suspect the contract and bill may only have been faked to disguise the flow of bribes. In fact, a completely different Limberger company paid the amount to the Nüßlein company. As NewsABC.net learned, the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office also had Aesculap’s offices in Vaduz searched by means of a request for legal assistance.

Upon request, the managing director is surprised by the fuss about the small company. “Mr. Limberger approached us in March 2020 to support him in setting up a company in Liechtenstein to trade in medical products,” says the managing director. “He advertised with already completed contracts with German public institutions, which had a serious and trustworthy effect.”

At this time, in March 2020, Limberger’s business partner, the lawyer from Frankfurt am Main, approached the textile company L. with completed contracts that promise lucrative business with the state ministries and the federal government. Shortly afterwards, at the beginning of April 2020, he and Limberger register the company Aesculap Kontor in Liechtenstein.

On its website, Aesculap Kontor GmbH names well-known customers: the Federal Ministry of Health, State Health Ministries in Bavaria and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and the Federal Police. The company L. from Hessen is named as a “trading partner” and acted as a mask supplier to numerous public institutions.

However: The Liechtenstein company von Limberger never developed an operative business, explains the then managing director and current liquidator of Aesculap. At Aesculap Kontor, nothing has materialized from the plans for the procurement and sale of protective masks and other medical articles. The liquidator is all the more surprised that there should be contracts or invoices.

The managing director claims not to have known anything about the advisory relationship with MP Nüßlein: “Aesculap Kontor GmbH was never involved in these processes, nor was it ever aware of a advisory contract with Mr. Nüßlein or one of his companies,” he says. The consultant invoice from the Nüßlein company Tectum to Aesculap mentioned in the investigation files could therefore have been a bogus invoice, since the CSU man did not provide any services for the company.

When NewsABC.net asked about the role he and his company Aesculap Kontor supposedly played in the procurement of protective masks for the ministries, Thomas Limberger and the lawyer from Frankfurt am Main did not respond until this article was published.

Georg Nüßlein also did not respond to questions from NewsABC.net. So far, however, he has rejected all allegations. In addition to the bribery, the public prosecutor’s office also accuses him of not having made an advance VAT return for the commission payment from Liechtenstein.

Research by NewsABC.net had recently burdened the politician: Accordingly, Nüßlein put pressure on senior officials of the Federal Ministry of Health to pay L.’s bills totaling around 15 million euros. This is evident from internal documents that NewsABC.net has. According to the documents, on May 25, 2020, Nüßlein sent a letter to the department head in the Ministry of Health responsible for mask procurement via a parliamentary group employee. The letter bears the official letterhead of the CDU / CSU parliamentary group and identifies Nüßlein as deputy parliamentary group leader.

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