Minor German party faces huge fine

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The Greys are being published for forging records to get federal grants.

Dusseldorf (dpa) - A minor German political party, the Greys, confirmed it faces a fine of 8.5 million euros ($12.5 million), far exceeding its current resources.

The party, which advocates better treatment for old-age pensioners, has never won seats in Germany's federal parliament but has received federal grants to match votes and donations it has received.

A spokesman for the federal parliament said the clerk of the house had imposed the penalty after finding Greys officials had forged records of non-existent donations to qualify for a matching 38-cent-per-euro federal grant.

German political parties are mainly funded by public money and mostly have only modest fund-raising programmes of their own.

Manfred Albrecht, deputy leader of The Greys, told DPA in Dusseldorf, "it's obvious the party cannot pay that kind of money." The party would probably appeal, and would also seek a reduction.

A separate police inquiry is under way to establish if a former national executive member can also be prosecuted for fraud.

"The charges only apply to a few officials and not to the party as a whole," said Albrecht.

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