The Flick Affair was a West German political scandal of the early 1980s relating to donations by the Flick company, a major German conglomerate, to various political parties—according to Flick manager Eberhard von Brauchitsch—"for the cultivation of the political landscape". Otto Graf Lambsdorff, then federal minister for economic affairs, was forced to resign in 1984 after being accused of accepting bribes from CEO Friedrich Karl Flick.
The affair was made public by the news magazine Der Spiegel who also gave the public access to documents and files that had been confiscated from the Flick company. It lastingly damaged public confidence in politics.
The Flick affair began in 1975 with a share trade where the Flick company sold shares worth 1.9 Billion Deutsche Mark from Daimler AG to the Deutsche Bank. In January of the following year, the Flick Company filed a tax exemption for this deal at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs, which was approved by Minister Hans Friderichs (FDP) and later also by his successor and party colleague Otto Graf Lambsdorff.
Five years later, in 1981, the tax fraud investigator Klaus Förster after lengthy inquiries found evidence that there had been money transfers from the Flick company to all parties represented in the German Bundestag parliament. A cash book kept by the Flick company accountant Rudolph Diehl listed that next to other transfers, 250,000 Deutsche Mark was transferred to CSU chairman Franz Josef Strauss and 565,000 Deutsche Mark were transferred to CDU chairman Helmut Kohl, as well as payments to FDP and SPD politicians.
Otto Graf Lambsdorff resigned from his office as a federal minister on 27 June 1984, after formal accusation was admitted at the Bonn regional court, and Hans Friedrichs had to step down as the CEO of the Dresdner Bank. On the basis of the testimonies and documents, however, evidence of a quid pro quo relation were impossible to prove. On February 16, 1987 Friderichs, Lambsdorff and von Brauchitsch were only found guilty of tax evasion and assistance to tax evasion resp. Von Brauchitsch received a suspended sentence, while both politicians were sentenced to a monetary penalty.
The Kohl government tried to pass a bill in 1984 which implied that all politicians who had received tax deductions for donations to political parties would be given an amnesty.
Bundestag committee of inquiry
In 1984 the Bundestag found a committee to investigate the Flick Affair; Over two years proceedings clarified that between 1969 and 1989 politicians of all major parties CDU, CSU, FDP and SPD had received money from the Flick company in the amount of 25 Million Deutsche Mark.
During the proceedings, the CDU politician Rainer Barzel resigned from his office as President of the Bundestag on 25 October 1984, after being accused of being entangled in the Flick scandal; a charge rejected by both the inquiry committee and the prosecuting authorities two years later. The Green MP Otto Schily, member of the investigation committee, later filed a complaint against Chancellor Helmut Kohl for alleged false testimony.
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