Pal of the New Chancellor Gets a Slap on the Wrist

Germany has a new Chancellor: Olaf Scholz of the Social Democrats. Before Mr. Scholz even sat down to warm Mrs. Merkel’s chair, his close confidant Wolfgang Schmidt was let off lightly on a federal charge. It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.

Many thanks to Hellequin GB for translating this article from Die Welt:

Criminal investigation against new head of the Chancellery Schmidt suspended after the deal

Just in good time before his appointment as the new head of the Federal Chancellery, the proceedings against Olaf Scholz’s confidant Wolfgang Schmidt (SPD) were discontinued. The 51-year-old negotiated a deal after the Treasury Department published the search warrant on Twitter.

Less than two weeks before the federal election, the Osnabrück public prosecutor’s office initiated an investigation against the then-State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance, Wolfgang Schmidt, in mid-September. The accusation: The SPD politician published essential parts of the search warrant in the Ministry of Finance on Twitter.

According to Section 353d of the Criminal Code, it is forbidden to make documents from preliminary investigations such as search warrants public before they are tried in court, as the Osnabrück public prosecutor’s office argued. The case was handed over to the Berlin judiciary, which also saw an initial suspicion.

Olaf Scholz’s confidant Schmidt explained his behavior at the time that he wanted to correct the impression that employees of the Federal Ministry were being investigated. It is “necessary for the public to form a picture of the facts,” he wrote on Twitter.

Two days before Schmidt became the new head of the Federal Chancellery on Wednesday as the successor to Helge Braun (CDU), the proceedings have now been suspended for the time being against a monetary requirement of €5,000. As the Tagesspiegel reports, the preliminary investigation was suspended because of a “prohibited communication about court hearings”, so the 51-year-old no longer has to fear charges.

The Berlin public prosecutor’s office confirmed that.

Schmidt immediately paid the required amount, half of which was transferred to two charitable organizations. With the receipt of the money there, the proceedings against him will be finally discontinued.

This leads to the conclusion that Schmidt could not convince the judiciary of his point of view. In the past few days, his lawyer is said to have tried to end the procedure as quickly as possible with a view to the new job in the Chancellery. Had Schmidt not accepted the deal, he would likely have been threatened with either a penalty order or a charge.

Afterword from the translator:

Just imagine what happens to mere mortals who don’t pay their TV license or traffic fines, or, God forbid, refuse to be injected with the Mengele-juice.