German prosecutors drop probe of Green leaders over bonuses

Mar 29, 2022, 8:07 PM | Updated: Mar 30, 2022, 8:11 am

BERLIN (AP) — German prosecutors have dropped an investigation into the former leadership of Germany’s Green party, including the country’s current vice chancellor and foreign minister, over pandemic bonus payments last winter.

Berlin prosecutors said in January that they had opened an investigation into a preliminary suspicion of breach of trust. They told German news agency dpa on Wednesday that they have now closed the proceedings because that suspicion wasn’t confirmed.

At issue was the role of the party leadership in approving the “corona bonus” of 1,500 euros ($1,650) per person for employees at party headquarters and the leaders themselves. The bonus was meant to compensate for the inconvenience caused by working from home and by renovation works at the building.

The six-member leadership board included the party’s co-leaders at the time, Robert Habeck and Annalena Baerbock. Habeck became Germany’s vice chancellor and the minister for economy and climate when the Greens joined Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s new government in December. Baerbock is now Germany’s foreign minister.

Both stepped down from their party posts after joining the government, something that the Greens expect of government ministers. They were succeeded last month by a new leadership duo, Ricarda Lang and Omid Nouripour.

The party said has said that its leadership was entitled to make the decision, but has since paid the bonuses back. Prosecutors said there had been several criminal complaints from private individuals, which they were obliged to look into.

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German prosecutors drop probe of Green leaders over bonuses