Doug Saunders

Is Karlheinz Schreiber finally out of secrets?

Extradited weeks before an election, the bagman is promising a new round of scandal-mongering. But German politics has moved on

Doug Saunders

London — From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

The German newspapers call it “the Schreiber effect.” It happens to conservative parties just as they are feeling confident about their election odds: Suddenly, a strange little German bagman appears and starts telling stories about the party's most beloved leader from two decades before, stories that cast a decidedly seedy light on the party.

For the past several years, this has been the fate of Canada's Conservatives. As of Tuesday morning, it was time for Germany's ruling Christian Democrats to feel the pain. Karlheinz Schreiber, lobbyist, arms dealer, fundraiser and political nightmare on legs, is back on Bavarian soil and promising to spill the beans.

Mr. Schreiber's deportation to Germany late Monday night, after he exhausted years of appeals in Canadian courts, has sent him into a country in the midst of an election campaign that the Christian Democrats, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel in an awkward coalition with the left-wing Social Democrats, had hoped to win neatly.

And if Brian Mulroney's envelopes containing hundreds of thousands in cash were Mr. Schreiber's party-wrecking bombshell in Canada, he promised to unleash something worse in Germany. After all, he is there to face trial for having paid millions of dollars in secret cash payments to the administration of Helmut Kohl, the Christian Democrat chancellor of Germany for 16 years in the 1980s and 1990s.

The German-Canadian businessman faces charges of tax evasion, bribery and fraud in connection with allegations that top officials from the Christian Democrats received millions for party slush funds delivered in cash-filled briefcases handed over in parking lots. After arriving at a jail in the Bavarian city of Augsburg, Mr. Schreiber was denied bail. He is contesting all the charges.

The timing couldn't be worse: With an election pending on Sept. 27, and being fought over issues of economic honesty amid the worldwide banking and credit crisis, the last thing Christian Democrats want is to be reminded of industrial-scale bribe-taking scandals in their past.

In fact, there's speculation in Germany that Mr. Schreiber's sudden deportation from Canada to Germany, which took place on the holiday Monday with unusual speed, was orchestrated by the Social Democrats in an effort to hurt their coalition partners in the election.

“It is embarrassing to have these things coming up right before an election,” Oliver Schrom, the German writer who helped expose the bribe-making history of Mr. Schreiber in the 1990s, said in an interview from his Hamburg office. “And I'm certain it was deliberate – remember, the Justice Ministry is controlled by the Social Democrats.”

To make matters worse, Mr. Schreiber has repeatedly suggested that he has more dark secrets to reveal should he find himself under pressure in court, just as he embarrassed his former friend Mr. Mulroney in an apparent effort to delay his deportation from Canada.

But Ms. Merkel, the Christian Democrat Chancellor, does not appear to be getting nervous. Her party commands a large lead in the polls – 36 per cent to the Social Democrats' 24 per cent – and hardly anyone in Germany believes it will be dented by Mr. Schrieber's sudden reappearance.

“It is not going to have any effect, none at all,” Mr. Schrom said. “He does not have anything damaging to say, I am completely sure of that.”

As with the allegations surrounding Mr. Mulroney, the ones involving the Christian Democrats have been around for a long time. They first broke in 1999, and they were damaging enough then to force Mr. Kohl from the chairmanship of the party. (His final term as chancellor had ended the previous year.)

Mr. Kohl's ouster from the party in 1999 was orchestrated by none other than Ms. Merkel. As a then-obscure party official, she wrote a newspaper article denouncing the apparent corruption of her former mentor, and led a drive to renew the party. This created a rift between the party's Kohl-era old guard and its dominant Merkel faction, but it also led Ms. Merkel to her current leadership.

Her government contains only one scandal-plagued Kohl-era figure, Interior Minister Wolfgang Schauble, who received large cash payments from Mr. Schreiber in 1994. But that scandal has been fully aired, and few expect it to create new embarrassments.

So today's Christian Democrats are almost as distinct from the party of Mr. Kohl as Stephen Harper's Conservatives are from Mr. Mulroney's erstwhile Progressive Conservatives. If Mr. Schreiber is going to have an effect on the election, he will have to make some truly surprising allegations from his Bavarian cell.





commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre


8/4/2009 11:36:40 PM
Wow, Kudos to Doug Saunders on an outstanding article that very accurately states the issues involved while cutting threw the cloud of diversionary extriment.

As much as Schreiber deserved to be extradited 10 years ago, the Conservative Government just put the icing on their election cake by serving him at 5:30 PM on a weekend that precluded an appeal by a judge who made "the decision Harper wanted".

There was nothing wrong in that decision but there was plenty wrong in holding on a weekend when an appeal could not be heard.

That's a very typical stunt pulled by the ontario judiciary, co-incidental hearings, providing decisions when they can't be appealed, withholding transcripts, withholding decisions, all the typical acts of a corrupt judiciary, that bring disgrace to Canada.

Germany however is about to launch a new war, a new wave of Schreiber revelations that might, just might hit Canada before Canada's next election.

The German courts don't have the kid gloves of Canadian courts, German courts are not so fundamentally corrupt with politically appointed judges, you might have to go back 60 years before you find a German Judiciary that rivals the objectivity of that of Ontario's Superior court of justice who treat men, with out the same respect for legal rights that one religious group faced in Germany during the reign of the 3rd Reich.

Ontario's judicial corruption, its judicial bias against men, its policy of male gender apartheid, is an international embarrassment and very good reasons why men should NOT emigrate to Ontario Canada where the rule of law is nothing but a sick joke.