Deutsche Post chief resigns after tax raid

15th February 2008, Comments 0 comments

Zumwinkel bows to political pressure and leaves the partially government-owned company.

Berlin -- Deutsche Post chief executive Klaus Zumwinkel, one of Germany's most prominent businesspeople, bowed to political pressure Friday and resigned his position a day after prosecutors linked him to a million-euro tax scam.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck, speaking through their official spokesmen, welcomed Zumwinkel's decision. The German state owns around 30 percent of the former monopoly through the KfW development bank.

Steinbrueck's spokesman, Torsten Albig, said the probe into millions of euros stashed in the tax haven of Liechtenstein took in "numerous" prominent German business people. He refused to be drawn on the details.

Albig urged those involved to file corrected returns detailing their tax evasion -- a device known as "self-reporting" under German law and aimed at allowing offenders to reduce possible penalties.

Merkel's spokesman, Ulrich Wilhelm, said the chancellor regretted the fact that Zumwinkel, who had headed Deutsche Post since 1990 and played a central role in its privatization, had not made a public statement on his position since police raided his home and office at dawn on Thursday.

Deutsche Post released a statement after the raids saying that Zumwinkel was remaining in office.

Wilhelm said the highly publicized scandal would be discussed when Merkel met Liechtenstein Prime Minister Otmar Halser on Wednesday.

The raids, on Zumwinkel's Cologne home and his office at Deutsche Post headquarters in Bonn, were broadcast on national television.

Zumwinkel was taken away under police escort to the prosecutors office in Bochum but later released after posting a large bond as security.

Prosecutors said they were probing tax evasion amounting to a million euros (1.5 million dollars).

They added that others were also under investigation in a probe into funds deposited with foundations in Liechtenstein, a tiny principality between Austria and Switzerland that has a reputation as a tax haven.

A storm of outrage ensued over the allegations, that apparently followed a year long probe into Zumwinkel and up to 100 others, many of them reported to be prominent and wealthy German business people.

Zumwinkel had also stepped down from his position on the supervisory board of Deutsche Telekom, the government spokesmen indicated.

DPA with Expatica

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