In August, the Kiel public prosecutor received a criminal complaint. This is directed against three members of the Aldi family and their lawyer. The accused are said to have illegally paid out or contributed to millions of dollars. From the account of the Jakobus Foundation in Schleswig-Holstein. The owners of Aldi Nord have put their billion-dollar fortune into three foundations named Markus, Lukas and Jakobus.
The preliminary investigation is already explosive enough. After all, the Albrechts are about one of the richest families in Germany, whose discounter company everyone really knows. But there is more hidden behind the file number at the Kiel public prosecutor’s office, a true family drama. Because according to research by NewsABC.net, the criminal complaint came from his own family. The Aldi heir has apparently broken with his sisters and accuses them of infidelity. With the help of their lawyer, they are said to have reached into the fund of the Jakobus Foundation again last winter, although they would have known that this would not have been legally permissible. Mother Babette also received millions in this way. The family lawyer said he did not want to comment on the allegations.
Ironically, the Albrechts, for whom discretion and secrecy were top priorities for decades, are now waging their mud battle in public. What’s behind it? And how did it come to that?
The story begins with a corner shop in Essen. The brothers Theo and Karl build a discounter empire from their parents’ business, branch by branch. Aldi is one of the great success stories from the time of the economic miracle. In 1961 the brothers decide to divide their kingdom. Karl takes over Aldi Süd, Theo leads Aldi Nord. The group now has stores in around 20 countries and employs more than 200,000 people worldwide.
Back to Theo Albrecht: He marries Cäcelie, known as “Cilly”. The couple has two sons: Theo junior and Berthold. Theo junior is still in charge of Aldi Nord today. His brother Berthold died in 2012 at the age of 58, only shortly after the death of his father and patriarch Theo senior.
The inheritance dispute begins after the death of Berthold, who leaves behind four daughters and son Nicolay. The quadruplets were born in 1990, another daughter in 1992. The widow Babette and her children do not accept Berthold’s will and challenge it in court – against the will of Theo junior. The main focus of the disputes is the influence of the heirs at the Jakobus Foundation. Berthold had decreed that there should not be a majority of family members on the foundation’s board of directors. The board of directors makes decisions about important investments in the company, but also about distributions to the heirs.
Over the years, Berthold’s heirs have paid off a three-digit million amount. The payment of the first 25 million euros in 2014 is said to have been made secretly and deliberately without informing Theo junior, as stated in an internal memo from December 10, 2014. The then deputy foundation board member should have been prohibited by the lawyer from Babette and Co. from informing Theo Albrecht junior about it.
All attempts at arbitration between Theo Albrecht and the heirs fail. The case ends up in court. Last year, Berthold’s children were defeated in the years of legal dispute before the Federal Administrative Court. The plaintiff was not Theo Albrecht, but the responsible foundation supervisory authority in Schleswig. After the judgment of the Federal Administrative Court, the authority requested the Aldi heirs to fill the foundation board in accordance with the statutes and threatened consequences. But to this day the children have apparently not yet implemented the changes made by the court, and there is still no agreement on the composition of the foundation’s board of directors. That is apparently also the background for the current criminal complaint.
The Aldi heir, who put the ad, benefited from the distributions for years. In his early 20s, he was a multi-millionaire. But apparently he has now fallen out with his mother and sisters. A year ago, in September 2019, a strange incident occurred: He rang the doorbell at his mother Babette’s house in Essen-Bredeney, accompanied by two men. The police were then alerted and the son moved away again. Now he filed the criminal complaint against his sisters with the public prosecutor with serious allegations.
The dispute within one of the richest families in the country is now entering the next round.