Former spy chief gets prison term for tax evasion

12th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

12 August 2005, AUGSBURG, GERMANY - Germany's former spy chief was found guilty of tax evasion and sentenced to two years and three months in prison by a court Friday after admitting taking some EUR 2 million linked to a 1991 sale of armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia.

12 August 2005

AUGSBURG, GERMANY - Germany's former spy chief was found guilty of tax evasion and sentenced to two years and three months in prison by a court Friday after admitting taking some EUR 2 million linked to a 1991 sale of armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia.

More serious charges that Ludwig-Holger Pfahls received the money as a bribe for approving the sale were dropped after former chancellor Helmut Kohl and former foreign minister Klaus Kinkel testified Pfahls had not influenced the export decision.

The court found Pfahls guilty on lesser charges of evading taxes and accepting benefits as a public official. Given that Pfahls has been in detention since his arrest in Paris last year, officials said he may be released next month with the rest of his sentence converted to probation.

Judge Maximilian Hofmeister praised Pfahls for having "broken his wall of silence" and admitting wrongdoing to the court.

Pfahls, 62, headed Germany's BND intelligence agency from 1985 to 1987 and was a German deputy defence minister from 1987 to 1992.

From 1992, he worked for DaimlerChrysler as a senior executive in Brussels and in Singapore. While in Asia he vanished and was on the run for five years, apparently under various false identities.

Germany put the man, who had knowledge of some of its most sensitive secrets, on the international most-wanted criminal list.

Pfahls was finally tracked down and arrested last summer in Paris.

He confessed to the court that he had received around EUR 2 million as a bribe from Karlheinz Schreiber, a German lobbyist believed to have set up the armoured-vehicle sale.

Germany, which has strict laws against exporting arms to zones of conflict, approved a sale of 36 Fuchs armoured reconnaissance vehicles to Saudi Arabia despite high-level opposition.

The wheeled ARVs (Armed Robotic Vehicles) are designed to check battlegrounds for nuclear, biological and chemical poisons before troops deploy. At the time, the Saudis were concerned that they might face a chemical attack from Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Pfahls had oversight over arms control policy and put a stamp of approval on the deal, worth about EUR 223 million.

Copyright DPA with Expatica

Subject: German news

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