German industrialist Friedrich Karl Flick dies

6th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

6 October 2006, VIENNA/DUSSELDORF - Billionaire Friedrich Karl Flick, who once ran one of Germany's most powerful business empires and whose name was linked with one of Germany's biggest political scandals, has died at his home in Austria, aged 79, it was announced Friday.

6 October 2006

VIENNA/DUSSELDORF - Billionaire Friedrich Karl Flick, who once ran one of Germany's most powerful business empires and whose name was linked with one of Germany's biggest political scandals, has died at his home in Austria, aged 79, it was announced Friday.

One of the most dazzling personalities in postwar Germany, Flick made headlines not only with his business dealings but also for his extravagant lifestyle.

Flick died in the company of his family late Thursday after a "serious illness" for which he had been undergoing treatment at a Munich hospital since mid-September, his financial administrator, Joerg-Andreas Lohr, said in Vienna.

Born in Berlin on February 3, 1927, Flick worked in the family business and inherited a major part of it in 1972 when his father died.

He became sole owner of the Friedrich Flick Industrial Holding, with interests in major companies, including Daimler-Benz, Gerling Insurance and Dynamit Nobel.

Flick divested himself of all of his companies in 1985 and later retired to Austria, depriving the German tax office of 110 million marks (64 million dollars) in annual taxes. He had already obtained Austrian citizenship 27 years earlier.

His business empire was at the centre of Germany's biggest postwar economic scandal when it emerged it had paid about 15 million dollars to political parties to achieve tax relief and favourable rulings.

Flick's main executive, Eberhard von Brauchitsch, described this practice that went on from 1969 to 1980 as "cultivation of the political landscape."

The "Flick Affair," as it later became known, highlighted the cosy relationship between big business and politics.

Although Chancellor Helmut Kohl was not directly tainted by the affair, it led to charges being filed against two economics ministers who served in his coalition government.

Otto Graf Lambsdorff and Hans Friderichs of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) were fined in 1987 for tax evasion arising from party donations. Von Brauchitsch received a two-year suspended prison sentence.

The Flick group employed a staff of 43,000 and achieved a turnover of 22 billion marks in 1984, a year before he sold his interests to Deutsche Bank for 5.4 billion marks.

After moving to Austria, Flick limited his business activities to administering his vast wealth, and was often seen in Vienna night clubs.

He owned luxury villas in Austria and Germany, some of them with atomic bunkers and bullet-proof windows. He also possessed a large tract of land in the Austrian province of Burgenland where he was able to enjoy his passion, hunting.

Flick was in the headlines in 1990 when, after two divorces, he married Ingrid Ragger, a woman 30 years his junior.

A year later his brother-in-law was abducted, but released a few days later following payment of a ransom of 10 million marks.

Flick is survived by his wife, Ingrid, and twins Victoria- Katharina and Karl Friedrich, who were born in 1999.

DPA

Subject: German news

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