Infidelity allegations against missing Tengelmann billionaire Haub

Karl-Erivan, Georg and Christian Haub (from left)

Karl-Erivan, Georg and Christian Haub (from left)

REUTERS / Ina Fassbender

The hours before Karl-Erivan Haub disappeared are meticulously documented in investigation files. On April 6, 2018, the Tengelmann boss checked in for two nights at the hotel “The Omnia” in Zermatt. The next morning at 7.30 a.m. he set off alone on a risky training tour in the Swiss Alps. He took a ski lift to the “Klein Matterhorn” mountain station. Up there, at a height of 3820 meters, a video camera recorded the last sign of life. At 9.09 a.m., the billionaire’s trail is lost.

Nothing suggests a crime. Police investigations have also failed to uncover any evidence. And yet there is still speculation in the Tengelmann Empire that “Charly” was not the victim of a tragic accident at all. That may be because Karl-Erivan Haub led a life in which many things seemed possible.

Paranoia haunted one of the richest German men. Haub’s world of thoughts was shaped by the fear that someone might want to harm his money or harm him. Blackmail attempts and threats reinforced this impression with him. So he began to have people who came near him systematically monitored, and for this purpose he even secretly bought shares in a detective agency in Hanover. The private investigators shadowed bodyguards, business partners, neighbors and even members of his family. Nobody should be able to keep a secret from him and nobody should know all his secrets.

According to research, the former Tengelmann boss led a hidden double life. Visible to the public, the wealthy businessman directed an international trading empire, met with the Chancellor and attended festive receptions accompanied by his wife Katrin. He apparently shared his other life with a woman from St. Petersburg for more than a decade. At the time, Veronika E. worked for an event agency and was reportedly involved in organizing a birthday party for Karl-Erivan’s mother. In her profile on the company homepage she wrote about herself that she loves the mountains, extreme adventure and adrenaline. Just like “Charly”.

For many years this affair was just a rumor in the Tengelmann empire. Security workers were amazed that Haub did not take any bodyguards with him to alleged business meetings in Russia. According to statements from companions, he is said to have even obtained a Russian passport in order to travel inconspicuously on scheduled flights. However, proof of the secret love did not emerge until text messages from Karl-Erivan were read out in the course of the rescue measures. Accordingly, Veronika E. wrote on the day when Karl-Erivan disappeared that she was now on her way to Moscow. Her work colleagues can hardly remember personal encounters. You received the last message at the end of 2019, when Veronika submitted her resignation by email. Since then, the contact has been broken. Quite a few people around the family therefore ask the question: Could it be that Karl-Erivan went into hiding in order to be able to lead a different life?

When asked, Katrin Haub, who as an out-of-home carer represents her husband’s interests, does not comment on any of this. Her lawyer explains that this is baseless speculation and that reporting would violate her personal rights. However, the moving past of Karl-Erivan Haub has long played a role in the bitter dispute between Katrin and her brother-in-law Christian – the new Tengelmann boss. The woman from Cologne wants the company to help finance the inheritance tax, he wants to remove his brother’s family line from the company. Even Karl-Erivan’s death declaration, which has not yet taken place, has become the plaything of the dispute. And as long as both sides cannot agree on the last decimal place of a billion dollar severance payment, the mutual accusations and damages should not stop.

With this in mind, Christian commissioned an investigation into the Russia affair months ago. It is also about company money amounting to around 40 million euros, which are said to have disappeared between Moscow and St. Petersburg. In the course of property purchases for planned Plus branches between 2010 and 2015, company funds are said to have been misappropriated. Karl-Erivan received corresponding reports of suspicion from the audit department personally at the time, but prohibited further tests. Whether Veronika E. played a role in this has not yet been clarified.

In another case, Christian’s allegations are more specific. Tengelmann is claiming back around twelve million euros from the Cologne family, which Karl-Erivan is said to have embezzled. According to confidential files held by, the company financed “Charly” spy orders for years. The private detective agency Adato billed eight million euros for the surveillance of his brother Georg alone.

The operation with the code name “Sissy” was supposed to clarify whether Georg’s then partner was part of a criminal conspiracy against the Tengelmann empire. According to Adato investigations, she is said to have deliberately introduced the bank manager Francisco C. to Georg. An allegedly highly dangerous man: At the end of the 1990s, C. was the head of the German company St. Petersburg Immobilien AG, on whose advisory board Vladimir Putin sat and which was long suspected of laundering funds for the Russian mafia. An investigation by the public prosecutor’s office was discontinued due to the statute of limitations.

These and other shady stories from the Tengelmann clan also gave rise to further speculation. Shortly after Karl-Erivan was missing, a letter landed with the criminal police. In it, a long confidante of the family expresses his suspicion that the billionaire must have been the victim of a crime. To this day, however, there is no sound evidence of this.

Tengelmann now demands that Katrin Haub hand over the confidential Adato documents. Including the investigation report on the shadowing of Felix W., Karl-Erivan’s long-time bodyguard. Why the spying on this man was worth a total of two million euros to the Tengelmann boss is recorded in an internal paper: The protector of Karl-Erivan is said to have been Katrin Haub’s lover. W. denies that.


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