Coronavirus

Mask deals: Nüßlein corruption affair reaches CSU presidium

CSU presidium member Alfred Sauter (r.) Drew up the contract for a mask business. Here with Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer

CSU presidium member Alfred Sauter (r.) Drew up the contract for a mask business. Here with Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer

Peter Kneffel / dpa

In the corruption affair surrounding the Union’s deputy parliamentary group leader Georg Nüßlein (CSU), investigators from the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office are apparently also investigating traces in the highest CSU circles.

Accordingly, the name of CSU board member Alfred Sauter appears in the investigation files against Nüßlein and the businessman Thomas Limberger because of suspicion of bribery and corruption in connection with several mask deals (NewsABC.net reported). The “Augsburger Allgemeine” also reports this.

According to information from NewsABC.net, Sauter has so far been held as a witness in the proceedings. What makes the influential CSU puller so interesting for the investigators: Nüßlein and he have close ties. Sauter represents the constituency of Günzburg in the Bavarian state parliament – precisely the city that includes Nüßlein’s federal constituency. In addition, Sauter is the chairman of the CSU district association Günzburg, where Nüßlein is also based. “Nüßlein is Sauter’s husband,” it says from CSU circles. Sauter had therefore only given Nüßlein the constituency mandate for the Bundestag.

Is Sauter behind Nüßlein’s commitment to a Hessian textile company L.? It is still unclear. When asked by NewsABC.net, the politician only said that he had just drafted a contract between the Bavarian Ministry of Health and the mask supplier L. Of course, he received a fee as a lawyer for this, said Sauter, who was also Bavarian Minister of Justice at the end of the 1990s.

In an interview with NewsABC.net, Sauter said that he was a lawyer and not a member of parliament on this matter: “For the draft contract, I used the email address of my Munich law firm,” he said. The CSU politician did not want to say anything about who paid him and gave him the job. He also states that he should only be responsible for the contract between the company L. and the Bavarian State Ministry of Health, he does not know anything about other contracts.

Upon request, Sauter also confirmed that he knew Thomas Limberger. As NewsABC.net has reported, Limberger’s offshore company in Liechtenstein is said to have paid a commission of 660,000 euros to Georg Nüßlein. However, Sauter said that he was not acting on Limberger’s side in this matter.

One thing is clear: Sauter and the former CSU deputy chairman Peter Gauweiler run a law firm in Munich and have been close friends for many years. Both have excellent contacts in business. Gauweiler, for example, has represented dozens of well-known companies and managers in the past, such as Leo Kirch, the state of Qatar, the former Airbus boss Tom Enders, the former Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg Stefan Mappus, the Metro and Audi manager Wolfgang Hatz. Like Sauter, Gauweiler is still considered influential in the CSU.

However, the investigators are still mainly concentrating on nuts. Through his company Tectum Holding GmbH, he is said to have not only brokered mask manufacturers to the Federal Ministry of Health, but also to the Federal Ministry of the Interior and several state health ministries. According to the investigators, the CSU politician is said to have received around 660,000 euros as a commission for his services. The public prosecutor’s office accuses him of not making advance sales tax returns for this sum. Nüßlein has meanwhile let his parliamentary deputy post rest and has so far rejected the allegations.

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