Merkel allies fined millions over illegal contributions
A court found that former Free Democrats deputy leader Juergen Moellemann collected major contributions for a state chapter of the party piecemeal to dodge political contribution laws.Berlin -- Germany's co-ruling Free Democrats must pay millions in fines due to illegal contributions they collected between 1996 and 2002, a court in Berlin ruled Tuesday.
The administrative court slapped the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), junior partners in Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition, with 3.5 million euros (5.2 million dollars) in fines, rejecting an appeal by the party.
It found that a former FDP deputy leader, Juergen Moellemann, who died while skydiving in 2003, had collected major contributions for a state chapter of the party piecemeal to dodge political contribution laws.
The court also found that Moellemann had falsely declared the origin of many of the donations.
The Bundestag lower house of parliament in July fined the party double the amount of the dubious contributions, a penalty upheld by the administrative court.
The FDP had appealed fine imposed by parliament because it argued that internal investigations it had conducted to shed light on the matter should count in its favour.