Olaf Scholz goes on vacation. The Social Democrat cannot be far away, however, because this Wednesday he will be playing a dual political role in Berlin – and, as you can hear, is arriving in an ecologically correct way. At 9:30 a.m., as Vice-Chancellor, he will chair the Federal Cabinet meeting. The boss is also on vacation, where Scholz can take on her job. At 4 p.m., then as Federal Minister of Finance, he should explain at a special meeting of the Finance Committee in the Bundestag why he did not make the alleged financial fraud of the Dax group Wirecard a top priority early on. The opposition calls such a survey “barbecuing”.
For Scholz, this Wednesday is not an insignificant day in his career. Only if he convinces as a committed reconnaissance, will he have the fairly limited remaining chance to do from the end of 2021 what he is doing on Wednesday morning: to head the federal government. And of course only if the SPD nominates him as candidate for chancellor and then enough citizens elect the SPD in autumn 2021.
Renowned auditors have issued clean attestations until 2018
The laws that the Federal Cabinet is supposed to pass under his direction could in any case be beneficial to the project: Work contracts in the meat processing industry are no longer to be permitted and the Family Relief Act is to be passed with the child benefit increase. It is possible that a law to reduce risk on the financial market will also be passed, which Scholz could later dispute to the suspicious deputies in the finance committee.
An entire hour is reserved for him in this committee. A statement, then questions. However, if you take seriously what was submitted until Tuesday, the survey should take a few days. 89 questions from the Greens alone. 22 pages of questions, not numbered, by the FDP. The left has limited itself to seven, but has still put some parliamentary questions directly to the ministries.
The amount corresponds to the occasion. Wirecard AG, Dax group based in Bavaria, has cheated at least since 2015, according to the Munich public prosecutor. In June 2020, she had to grant air bookings of almost two billion euros and file for bankruptcy. All supervisory authorities have failed. The damage is immense: for investors, for the government, for Germany as a location.
In addition to Scholz, Peter Altmaier is also invited. The Minister of Economy has nothing to do with financial supervision, but with the supervision of auditors. In the Wirecard case, the renowned auditors from EY had issued clean certificates by 2018. How can this happen where there has been significant evidence of fraud since 2015? One wants to know how this “systemic failure of the auditors” came about, says the green Danyal Bayaz. Altmaier also has an hour to explain. As a precaution, the minister has warned: he cannot stay forever. Follow-up appointments. The third respondent in the large parliamentary clarification campaign is said to be a representative of the DPR auditors who have since been terminated; however, he only has to survive 30 minutes.
In addition to the factual clarification, the scandal offers plenty of room for profiling with a view to the 2021 federal election. The SPD will try to take its potential candidate for Chancellor out of the firing line. The CSU must expect to have to explain why the Free State of Bavaria has made itself a lobbyist for Wirecard. The network of Bavarian helpers is tightly woven. The CDU must educate – and prevent a social democratic reform of the supervisory rules from scaring its own voters. Merkel has personally campaigned for Wirecard, it will hardly hurt the matter. But what about Wolfgang Schäuble and Jens Spahn, who were responsible as Minister and State Secretary in 2015?
The FDP has “great inclination” to a committee of inquiry – the Greens not quite so
The Greens, the Left and the FDP have the necessary majority to convene a parliamentary committee of inquiry. Will they do it? The greater the willingness, the smaller the likelihood of belonging to the next coalition. Fabio De Masi, deputy leader of the left in the Bundestag, has agreed to a yes to the committee of inquiry. He wants “that all government communications to Wirecard be disclosed”. He wants to see the full report of KPMG’s special auditors, which is said to prove that Bafin’s financial supervisory authority was informed of misconduct in lending. And he wants to know whether the FIU financial police located at Scholz got “evidence of money laundering early” from a prominent position. The problem, says De Masi, is that the chancellery is not invited, even though it is involved in the scandal.
The FDP shows “the great tendency” to join the left. Financial expert Florian Toncar has strong arguments: The greatest scandal in recent history, the highest government officials have failed. Wirecard is a top priority for the Greens. “As the party leadership, we are in close and regular exchange with our MPs,” said co-party leader Robert Habeck Süddeutsche Zeitung. It is the responsibility of the Federal Government to “provide information to the Wirecard case,” to the people responsible then and now “. “And not only to clarify what the supervisory authorities allegedly did, but also why the Ministry of Finance itself did not act earlier.” Habeck’s advice clearly goes in the direction of the CDU, Schäuble and Spahn, who were responsible in 2015 until the 2017 federal election. He leaves open the establishment of a committee of inquiry. It is “indicated when the open questions cannot be answered differently or the federal government sticks to the wall”.