The Swiss justice authorities have been prevented from giving any more legal assistance to German prosecutors investigating the funding scandal surrounding the opposition Christian Democrats and the former chancellor, Helmut Kohl.This content was published on January 5, 2000 - 09:15
The Swiss justice authorities have been prevented from giving any more legal assistance to German prosecutors investigating the funding scandal surrounding the opposition Christian Democrats and the former chancellor, Helmut Kohl.
The German investigators have filed a number of requests with Swiss cantons asking for information that could shed light on the matter. But, a court in canton Nidwalden has blocked the requests, pending a hearing on January 27.
Nidwalden's investigating magistrate, Alois Bissig, said the canton had acted following complaints from people under investigation. He refused to name them.
Nidwalden is coordinating all the German requests for legal assistance, including those sent to cantons Zurich, Geneva and St Gallen. Most of these requests are now on hold.
It's assumed that some of the secret cash donations to the Christian Democrats (CDU) ended up in Switzerland.
The Swiss investigations focus on on apparent irregularities connected with a controversial armaments deal with Saudi Arabia.
On Monday, prosecutors launched a formal inquiry into Kohl and his handling of the illegal payments. The man famous for unifying Germany ten years ago could face up to five years in prison if found guilty, and the CDU is likely to have pay hefty fines for breaching party funding laws.
Kohl has admitted receiving around one million dollars' worth of illicit contributions while in power, and of having accounts independent of the official party funds. But the former chancellor is refusing to say who donated the money, nor what it was used for.
The scandal is also threatening to engulf Kohl's successor as party leader, Wolfgang Schäuble. The ruling Social Democrats insist that, as CDU parliamentary leader at the time of the transactions, Schäuble must have been aware of them. He denies any knowledge of the slush fund.