German Green party leaders face inquiry into Covid bonuses | Germany

Berlin prosecutors have launched an investigation into the leadership of Germany’s Green party, including the new vice-chancellor and foreign minister, over Covid bonus payments last winter.

Prosecutors and the party confirmed on Wednesday the investigation into a preliminary suspicion of breach of trust after a report by the weekly publication Der Spiegel.

A Greens spokesperson said the party’s six-member leadership, including Robert Habeck, the economy minister in Germany’s new coalition, and Annalena Baerbock, now foreign minister, were being investigated by the Berlin prosecutors.

“The board members concerned and the (party’s) main office are cooperating fully with the public prosecutor’s office to clarify the facts quickly and comprehensively,” the spokesperson said.

At issue is the role of the party leadership in approving the so-called corona bonus of €1,500 (£1,250) per person for employees of the party headquarters and leaders. The bonus was meant to compensate for the inconvenience caused by working from home and by renovation works at the building.

Habeck and Baerbock are stepping down from the party leadership this month, something the Greens expect of government ministers.

Internal party auditors have raised questions over the bonus payments to the leadership board, according to reports.

The Greens said its leadership was entitled to make the decision but had since paid the bonuses back. It said the leadership and party headquarters are cooperating with prosecutors to clear the matter up.

Prosecutors said there had been several criminal complaints from private individuals, which they were obliged to look into. The investigation was opened on 6 January.

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