Schwesig wants to “wash clean” with the end of the climate foundation

Schwesig wants to “wash clean” with the end of the climate foundation

Dhe is chairman of the board of the controversial foundation “Climate and Environmental Protection MV” and former prime minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Erwin Sellering has made serious allegations against the state government of Manuela Schwesig (both SPD). The foundation fights and hinders them, they want to “get rid of them” in order to “wash themselves clean”, said Sellering on Tuesday in Schwerin. He called the desired dissolution of the foundation illegal, the state government could not simply determine this.

Julian Staib

Political correspondent for northern Germany and Scandinavia based in Hamburg.

The climate foundation was founded by the state parliament in 2021 to promote the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and, according to critics, also to circumvent US sanctions. The foundation acted as a kind of broker, entrusting the Gazprom subsidiary with money North Stream establishments, even bought a ship.

The construction of the pipeline could thus be completed, even after many companies had withdrawn from direct cooperation with Nord Stream in view of the threat of sanctions. The foundation received ten percent commission for this. To a much lesser extent, the foundation supported environmental protection projects in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. From the point of view of critics, this served the “cosmetics”.

Tax return burned in the fireplace

Recently it became known that in May 2022 a tax administration officer had burned a gift tax return from the foundation that had previously disappeared in a fireplace. It was about a donation from Nord Stream in the amount of 20 million euros. Payments of 60 million over 20 years were planned. From the point of view of the foundation, the funds served the common good, so no gift tax had to be paid. Only later did the tax office issue a notice of around ten million euros in gift tax. silent claims to have only recently heard about the burned tax return.

Sellering said there was “no deal” that there would be money from Moscow if the foundation helped build the pipeline; Nord Stream had an “original interest in climate and environmental protection” in the country. He spoke of “conspiracy theories” being put forward in the current “anti-Russia mood”. Regarding the accusation that the state government was trying to circumvent sanctions with the foundation, Sellering said: He doesn’t think that’s the right word; the action was in accordance with the applicable law in Germany.

Sellering announced the foundation’s board of directors would step down, as agreed with the state government last year. He did not give an exact date. The resignation takes place when the necessary certificates for the so-called economic business operations of the foundation are available.

The opposition Greens criticized Sellering. Constanze Oehlrich, the Greens’ legal policy spokeswoman in the state parliament, said that his claim that the climate foundation could not be dissolved without violating the law was wrong. With the completion of the pipeline, the main purpose of the foundation has ended; it can therefore lawfully be terminated. The FDP said that the state government’s “entanglements with Russia” finally had to be cleared up.

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