Lambsdorff Charged with Tax Evasion
BONN, West Germany (AP) _ Former Economics Minister Otto Lambsdorff was charged with tax evasion Friday while awaiting trial for allegedly accepting $45,000 in bribes.
The Bonn prosecutor filed the new charges against Lambsdorff in connection with the Flick payoffs scandal that forced him to resign from Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s Cabinet on June 26.
Lambsdorff has two months to answer the new charges while the Bonn court reviews them and decides whether to file a formal indictment.
Lambsdorff issued no public statement following the announcement, which had been expected since last month when the prosecutor said he would file tax evasion charges.
Parliament voted to lift Lambsdorff’s immunity from prosecution so he could defend himself in court against the accusations.
Lambsdorff resigned his Cabinet post after a Bonn court indicted him on a charge of accepting payoffs from the Flick industrial holding company in exchange for approving massive tax breaks in the 1970s.
His trial, originally scheduled for Jan. 10, was postponed indefinitely in a surprise move Thursday.
The postponement came when the Bonn court agreed to give co-defendant Eberhard von Brauchitsch time to reply to new charges of evading taxes on political donations.
Brauchitsch, a former Flick executive, allegedly arranged the political payoffs. Also charged is Lambsdorff’s predecessor, former Economics Minister Hans Friderichs, who is accused of taking bribes.
All three have denied the charges.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher issued a statement in Bonn naming Lambsdorff to the German-British Foundation, which finances industrial research projects. It is an honorary post that carries no salary.
The Foreign Ministry said Lambsdorff’s expertise in evolving industrial societies made him qualified to serve on the London-based board. He replaces Alexander Menne, who resigned.
Lambsdorff still holds his seat in the Bundestag, or lower house of Parliament.
He and Genscher belong to the centrist Free Democratic Party, junior coalition partner of the Christian Union conservatives in the West German government.