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Jan 9, 2023
Germany’s Finance Minister Faces Pressure Over Real Estate Loan
(Bloomberg) -- German Finance Minister Christian Lindner is facing pressure over a real estate loan after reports emerged that he had provided a video greeting for the bank that issued it.
The Berlin attorney general’s office is looking into whether to ask parliament to lift his immunity to allow an investigation to take place after the matter was first reported by Der Spiegel magazine in October, a spokesman said on Monday.
The preliminary review is ongoing, he said, adding that the move is usual in such cases and doesn’t mean authorities have already found evidence that would warrant opening a probe against the minister.
Tagesspiegel newspaper reported on Sunday that Lindner, who had already taken out a home loan with Karlsruhe-based BBBank, agreed to a request for a greeting video to mark its 100-year anniversary before then taking out another loan with the same bank.
Lindner’s attorney, Christian Schertz, said his client began his private real estate financing long before he became a minister and that the conditions he obtained were always in line with the market.
Giving short greetings, such as for bank anniversaries, is part of a minister’s normal role, Schertz added in an emailed statement. He said there was no link between the two, and that Lindner had followed the rules and been transparent.
A spokeswoman for the Finance Ministry told a government news conference in Berlin that BBBank had made the request in writing and that it wasn’t unusual for ministers or state secretaries to give greetings to all kinds of institutions.
Lars Klingbeil, co-head of the Social Democrats, who lead Germany’s governing coalition, declined to comment in detail, saying that authorities would now have to look into the matter.
--With assistance from Karin Matussek and Michael Nienaber.
(Updates with comment from Lindner’s attorney starting in fifth paragraph)
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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