June 8, 2023

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A house search at the EPP headquarters in Brussels due to a corruption investigation against a German Christian Democrat |  outside

A house search at the EPP headquarters in Brussels due to a corruption investigation against a German Christian Democrat | outside

On Tuesday, the Belgian and German police searched the headquarters of the European People’s Party in Brussels. According to German media, this happened in connection with a corruption investigation against CDU leader Mario Voigt (43 years old) from the state of Thuringia.

Investigators were looking for information and documents about Voigt’s work as head of digital campaigning for the 2019 European elections campaign. A spokesperson for the Public Prosecution Service (OM) in Erfurt confirmed the searches to regional broadcaster MDR.

Voigt was appointed in March 2019 as Digital Campaign Director in the Europe-wide campaign team of EPP Group Chairman Manfred Weber (CSU) and the European People’s Party. When searching for documents, the OM spokesperson explained that it was mainly about placing an order with an Internet company in the city of Jena (Thuringia). This company is said to have secured a contract to campaign digitally for the EU elections. In exchange, Voigt could have received the money, OM suspects.

During the searches in Brussels, investigators investigated whether it was possible, and if so, how Voigt could have been involved in awarding this contract. “We are looking for everything that can be used to legally classify the suspect’s activity with the executive vice president,” the broadcaster quoted an OM spokesperson as saying. According to the spokesman, investigators also wanted to hear possible witnesses and the investigation has not yet been directed against EPP employees.

Computers

Voigt is currently CDU leader and party leader in Thuringia. The 40-year-old denied the allegations from the outset. His lawyers did not want to comment on Tuesday about the searches at EPP headquarters in Brussels.

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According to initial reports, investigators seized computers on the first and third floors of the building, Euractiv news service, which specializes in European Union politics, reported, citing a source close to the case.

The Thuringian state parliament lifted Voigt’s political immunity in mid-September pending a criminal investigation. In mid-October 2022, searches took place at his home and workplaces. The case is said to have started after evidence was found during a raid on the internet company in Jena as part of another investigation.

EVP

EPP confirmed the police raid in a post on its website. The visit is linked to an ongoing investigation in Thuringia, Germany. The party told MDR it was “fully cooperating with the authorities” but did not comment further.

The conservative European People’s Party is the oldest and largest political group in the European Parliament. According to sources around the European People’s Party, the case has nothing to do with bribery of other countries such as the Qatargate scandal.