Stricter law against bribery of MPs called for

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From the point of view of Transparency International, Germany is making little progress in fighting corruption. © Michael Kappeler/dpa

The mask affair cast a dubious light on corruption in politics last year. Transparency criticizes an “ineffective” law – the traffic light promises improvement.

Berlin – After the mask affair in the Bundestag, Transparency International calls for stricter rules against the bribery of MPs.

The incidents of the past year have revealed a serious loophole, the organization criticized on Tuesday. “Despite the enormous outrage after the cases of personal enrichment became known, the MPs concerned could not be held criminally responsible in the end,” emphasized Hartmut Bäumer, Chairman of Transparency Germany. This shows that the law against bribery of MPs is practically ineffective and urgently needs to be tightened up. In such cases, there must actually be convictions.

Controversial procurement of protective masks

At the beginning of the Corona crisis, two CSU politicians had made a lot of money with the controversial procurement of protective masks. The Munich Higher Regional Court did not see the offense of corruption and bribery of elected officials – but criticized the current legal situation with strikingly clear words.

Transparency now demands that the actions of a Member of Parliament become generally punishable if he abuses his position for his own benefit. So far, the law relates to cases in which parliamentary decision-making processes in the Bundestag are influenced – according to Transparency, however, it does not apply if the member of parliament uses contacts with ministries or the authority of his mandate. In addition, the MPs Act should also prohibit private commission transactions with the state in the future.

“Publishing contacts of lobbyists in ministries”

The traffic light coalition is already planning a tightening, emphasized the SPD MP Johannes Fechner. “Citizens must be able to trust that MPs work for the common good,” he told the German Press Agency. In addition, the lobby register should be sharpened and the contacts of lobbyists in federal ministries should be published. “We want to implement these important improvements before the end of this year,” he explained.

Overall, from Transparency’s point of view, Germany is making little progress in fighting corruption. A lobby register was introduced under the pressure of the mask affair. But in the administration, the principle of official secrecy still applies for the most part, the criminal liability of companies is not regulated, and whistleblowers are still not sufficiently protected.

Transparency compares the perceived corruption in the public sector in business, politics and administration internationally. In the ranking of 180 countries, Germany came in 10th. Denmark, New Zealand and Finland did best. For this purpose, data from twelve independent institutions specializing in the analysis of governance and the economic climate were evaluated. Tax fraud, money laundering or illegal financial flows in the private sector were not recorded. dpa

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