The Hamburg parliamentarian Hackbusch doesn’t believe the chancellor’s memory gaps in the cum-ex scandal. Now Scholz has to go before the committee.
taz: Mr. Hackbusch, what is the problem when the owner of an important, long-established bank, Christian Olearius, the mayor of Hamburg, Olaf Scholz (SPD)asks for a chat?
Norbert Hackbusch: The problem is not that Scholz received Olearius, but that he met him a second time within a few weeks.
Why was the second meeting problematic?
is 67 years old, documentary journalist and chairman of the left in the investigative committee of the Hamburg Parliament on the Cum-Ex tax robbery.
Because the mayor knew the second time around that it was going to be a tax matter – in this case related to potential tax evasion through cum-ex stock deals. As mayor, he has nothing to do with tax matters.
Worse still: Scholz accepts an argumentation paper from the bank, which he accepts Finance Senator Peter Tschentscher (SPD) can be passed on, although it is already available in the tax office. This makes him suspect that he wanted to politically influence the tax procedure.
The mayor argues that he passed the letter on through official channels, i.e. to the finance senator as the responsible body – as the finance senator said, I let myself be informed but had no influence on the decision of my authority.
That is completely unbelievable, because Tschentscher is not the official channel. The mayor has to be careful not to get the rumor of support, because individual tax matters are solely a decision of the tax office.
What should Scholz have done?
He should have seen what cum-ex deals are all about. Instead, he talks to the head of the bank about what he wants.
Wouldn’t it have been advisable to contact the finance senator and his authority?
At Scholz, with the knowledge of the cum-ex cases that have become known nationwide, the alarm bells should have rung. He should have asked himself: what about cum-ex cases in Hamburg in general? How did we actually work with it? We do not see this initiative from him. We only see the initiative in connection with the specific Warburg case and the fear that things could go badly for the bank.
Which would not necessarily be enough for him to be negative.
Of course you have to deal with it. But you can’t let a bank robber have his money just so he doesn’t become impoverished. There’s a lot you can do when a company gets into trouble—but not turn a blind eye to a bank robbery.
What does the Hamburg Committee expect from inviting him a second time on Friday?
Mr. Scholz has to come again because the SPD made sure that he was heard in April, well away from the federal elections. Our procedural compromise was that he would have to testify again at the end, when we had processed the whole case. However, we are not yet at the end of the committee because we will be expanding the investigation mandate.
In which direction?
The HSH Nordbank, which has since been renamed, also operated cum-ex transactions as a bank with state participation and repaid 126 million euros from it on its own initiative. Tschentscher claims that this was clarified in an exemplary manner and that the bank also paid fines. The second is wrong.
Since 2009, banks have had to have so-called professional certificates issued, which are intended to prevent tax robbery with cum-ex transactions. We know that didn’t work. In 29 cases, however, HSH Nordbank was not even able to produce such certificates. There was an investigative group in the tax authority that was supposed to clarify this. It’s amazing that they didn’t find out more than what the bank voluntarily reported.
The Hamburg Senate Chancellery initially denied the question of whether the mayor had met with the Warburg bankers. Did Scholz know that? Didn’t the Senate Chancellery know better?
In any case, it was a major mistake, because it wasn’t just about answering our little question. During the interviews in the committee, Scholz only remembered what was in his calendar or what was known from public sources: He had no specific knowledge of the content of the talks. So he has a credibility problem.
Because we know him. He meets the boss of an important bank in Hamburg and he says: Firstly, I have problems with your financial management and secondly, if it catches on, I’ll probably go broke. – And Scholz can’t remember this conversation? He who explained to me how the components in the Elbphilharmonie are hung?