90 questions – all not particularly edifying: The Greens wrote a letter to the federal government in the Wirecard scandal. A committee of inquiry is far from being averted.
In the possibly largest fraud scandal in post-war history, many questions remain unanswered. How many? The Greens now have a first number ready: they want the Federal Government to answer 90 questions in a first step about the Wirecard scandal.
The Greens have sent a corresponding list of questions to the Federal Government. And set a deadline for her answer: August 10th. It is probably the last chance for the federal government to prevent a committee of inquiry. That would be particularly uncomfortable for you: Finance Minister Olaf Scholz.
Who is responsible?
The Wirecard scandal revolves around the following questions: Who knew when and what misconduct? Why didn’t something happen earlier? And above all: who is responsible for it?
The now insolvent payment service provider Wirecard granted air bookings of 1.9 billion euros in June. Apparently, managers at Wirecard had been dealing with criminal energy for years. But because irregularities have been known through reports from the “Financial Times” for several years, there is also the question whether the financial regulator Bafin is at fault.
And with that, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz. Because the Bafin is subordinate to his ministry. The SPD politician Scholz had largely protected his authority in a first special meeting of the finance committee on Wednesday, according to participants – and blamed the blame primarily on the auditors. At the same time, he had previously announced reforms to the Bafin.
In his view, this is a comprehensible strategy. Scholz tries to put himself at the forefront of the reform movement and, at the same time, to reject a concrete debt. Because the Minister for Economic Affairs and CDU politician Peter Altmaier is responsible – not Scholz.
So far, the opposition has not been impressed. FDP politician Florian Toncar said that Scholz’s argument in the finance committee was not conclusive. On the one hand, one could not say that the financial regulator took the problem seriously, but then did not deliver any results to Wirecard for a year and a half.
And the Greens also formulated many questions about the role of Bafin and the Ministry of Finance in their questionnaire, which is available at t-online.de. One of them: Why did the Bafin not initiate an audit of the accounting until almost four years after the first reporting of irregularities at the Wirecard? Another: Were representatives of the Ministry of Finance in contact with other actors related to Wirecard?
Probability for committee of inquiry increases
The Greens play a key role in determining whether it will be even more unpleasant for the federal government than it is now. While the Left and the FDP have declared that they can imagine a committee of inquiry in which the scandal would be dealt with in minute detail, the Greens have been hesitating so far.
The special meeting of the finance committee on Wednesday did not convince them either. “Some questions have been answered, new ones have arisen,” said Green Party politician Danyal Bayaz. Scholz could not remove the accusation that the political early warning system had not worked, although there had long been warning signals in the Wirecard case.
With their catalog of questions and another special meeting of the finance committee, the Greens want to give the government another chance to avoid the committee of inquiry. It is part of the political culture in Germany to give the government an opportunity to respond, said Bayaz. But he also said: “The probability that an investigative committee will come is probably higher than that it will not come.”
The SPD conspicuously assembles behind Scholz
Olaf Scholz could use a committee of inquiry particularly badly. The committee would pull itself into next year, and the Bundestag will be elected there in the autumn. According to everything that is known, Scholz is to run for the SPD, even if the party has not yet officially confirmed this.
In an election campaign, the Wirecard scandal would be a major burden for Scholz – unlike Angela Merkel, whose role also raises questions – or for Peter Altmaier. Both simply did not plan to run as chancellor, Merkel even ended her career.
The SPD is therefore striking to close the ranks and protect Scholz. “The finance minister has put the cards on the table,” said SPD financial expert Cansel Kiziltepe. “Those responsible have done their work in accordance with the applicable laws.” She also tried to draw attention to the auditors and thus Minister of Economics Altmaier.
SPD leader Norbert Walter-Borjans openly expressed his concerns on Deutschlandfunk that an investigative committee could be instrumentalized in the election campaign. “We’re going into an election year now and we shouldn’t be kidding ourselves,” he said. A committee of inquiry would then also have other goals than the information.
Even SPD leader Saskia Esken, who is truly not considered a Scholz friend, stood demonstratively behind him on Wednesday, albeit on the occasion of a campaign by Scholz opponents on Twitter with the descriptive name #NOlaf. Esken wrote: “We are team players. We stand together. And Olaf Scholz is one of us.”