German court finds ex-minister guilty of corruption

A German court today convicted a former senior official of accepting illegal payments and evading taxes in connection with arms deals while serving in the government of former Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

A German court today convicted a former senior official of accepting illegal payments and evading taxes in connection with arms deals while serving in the government of former Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

The state court in Augsburg sentenced Holger Pfahls, who was a deputy defence minister, to two years and three months in prison after a trial linked to the slush-fund scandal that disgraced Kohl and his Christian Democratic Union party.

Pfahls, who spent five years on the run from German justice, has admitted accepting €1.9m from a German-Canadian businessman in connection with several arms contracts.

Pfahls insisted, however, that he did nothing in return, and prosecutors dropped the main corruption charge against him after Kohl testified as a witness that Pfahls had no influence on a decision to deliver armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia in 1991.

Investigations into the businessman, Karlheinz Schreiber, in the mid-1990s triggered a scandal that deepened with Kohl’s admission that he had personally accepted off-the-books – and thus illegal – donations from supporters he has refused to name.

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