STRASBOURG, France (Panorama.am) – German lawmaker Karin Strenz from Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), who was accused of doing paid lobbying work Azerbaijan, was removed from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, according to the decision by German officials.
A consortium of public broadcasters NDR, WDR and daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reported earlier that a district chapter of Angela Merkel’s CDU received €28,000 ($33,114) from the state-run Azerbaijani oil and gas company Socar in contravention of German rules on party donations.
That reports revealed several German lawmakers involved money laundering and slush fund scheme dubbed the “Azerbaijani Laundromat.” A consortium of European newspapers and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) published reports about the scheme, which allegedly funneled 2.5 billion euros from four UK-based shell companies through an Estonian branch of a Danish bank to buy luxury goods and pay European politicians and Azerbaijani elites.
The OCCRP report noted that the origin of the money is unclear, but there is “ample evidence of its connection to the family of President Aliyev.”
The parliamentarian Karin Strenz, who according to the paper did not disclose her work for an Azerbaijan-financed lobbying firm within three months as asked. The company is owned by former CSU politician Eduard Lintner, who has been doing lobbying work for Azerbaijan since 2009. In another possible indication of her sympathies with the authoritarian country, in June 2015 Strenz voted against a resolution by the Council of Europe to call on Azerbaijan to release its political prisoners — the only German MP to do so, according to an earlier report in the paper.
Along with Karin Strenz, the Head of German delegation at PACE Axel Fischer who until recently served as the chairman of the Group of the European People’s Party (EPP) was removed from the German parliamentary group.