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Report: No Corruption in Kohl Party

July 28, 2001

BERLIN (AP) _ A Swiss investigation of a business deal linked to a scandal dogging former Chancellor Helmut Kohl shows no evidence of corruption in his conservative party, according to a report Saturday.

Earlier this month, federal prosecutors in Karlsruhe requested evidence gathered by their Swiss counterparts on the sale of an east German oil refinery in 1992, when Kohl was in power.

Raimund Weyand, a prosecutor in Saarbruecken investigating aspects of the deal, told the news magazine Focus that the Swiss files contain no indication of corruption involving the party.

``There is definitively no evidence in the files that bribes flowed to the Christian Democrats or their representatives,″ Weyand was quoted as saying.

Swiss and French prosecutors suspect bribes were paid in the takeover of the Leuna refinery by France’s Elf-Aquitaine. Weyand is investigating suspicions of money-laundering by Elf lobbyist Dieter Holzer.

Swiss prosecutor Bernard Bertossa has said the Leuna affair involved payments of about $560 million and that the money flowed through the same channels in Switzerland and Liechtenstein used for payments in a German-Saudi arms deal.

The contract for German tank sales to Saudi Arabia is another element in the scandal surrounding the Christian Democrats.

Federal prosecutors have said they could open an investigation themselves based on the Swiss evidence or pass the material to state-level colleagues.

Kohl himself kicked off the scandal in late 1999, when he admitted accepting up to $1 million in secret donations for his party in the 1990s. Kohl denies there was influence-peddling but refuses to identify the donors.

Parliament is still investigating whether decisions by Kohl’s government were bought during his 16 years in power.

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