The planned resolution fund also worries the Greens

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January 2, 2020
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The planned resolution fund also worries the Greens

The planned resolution fund also worries the Greens

That is the answer to the challenges the city is facing, Onay said. He was referring to the consequences of the corona pandemic and the city’s major projects such as the mobility transition, digitization or the application for the Capital of Culture.

In the course of the town hall affair about inadmissible wage supplements for top officials, the previous mayor Stefan Schostok (SPD) resigned. Onay was elected his successor just under a year ago. For the first time in more than 70 years, Hanover no longer has an SPD mayor. The SPD and the Greens rule the city council with the support of the FDP.

In the process of serious infidelity against the former mayor of Hanover, Stefan Schostok, the defense has demanded an acquittal for the SPD politician. His client only found out in May 2018 that the allowance for his office manager and chief lawyer Frank Herbert was illegal, said Schostok’s lawyer Wolfgang Borsum on Tuesday. The payment was then immediately stopped. A preliminary investigation was wrongly initiated against Schostok, said the defense attorney. (Ref .: 70 KLs 12/19)

The 55-year-old resigned as mayor after charges were brought and had himself retired. The Green politician Belit Onay was elected to succeed him. This is the first time in more than 70 years that there is no SPD politician at the head of the Lower Saxony state capital.

In their plea on March 19, the public prosecutor’s office called for an eight-month suspended sentence for Schostok. The prosecution is convinced that the mayor at the time knew about the illegality of the allowance by October 2017 at the latest, but did not stop it. Defense attorney Borsum accused the public prosecutor’s office of “mood-making” – they operated with terms such as “favoritism”, created the impression of “clubbing” and described the then chief lawyer Herbert as Schostok’s “intimate”.

The ex-office manager is also charged with inciting serious infidelity. His defense lawyer also requested an acquittal. Herbert had relied on the fact that the allowance had been coordinated with the local authority in the Ministry of the Interior, as the then HR department head Harald Härke claimed, the lawyer said. Härke is also charged with serious infidelity as the third defendant. For the former top official, his defense lawyer demanded a suspended sentence of no more than one year. He was the only accused to admit errors.

Between April 2015 and May 2018, Härke is said to have granted the office manager a monthly salary bonus of around 1,300 euros at his insistence, although he knew that this is not permitted under civil service law. Overall, the state capital is said to have suffered damage of around 49,500 euros. Civil servants who are not politically elected are actually not allowed to receive more money than salary level B2. After the creation of a separate department for Herbert had failed politically, the chief lawyer received as much money as B5 with the help of the allowances. He even asked for as much money as B7 in February 2017, which Härke refused. The verdict is due to be pronounced on Thursday in a week (April 23).

Distance rules in the hall, additional hearing dates: The Hanover regional court has taken precautions to prevent the process of the city hall affair of the state capital from breaking up due to the coronavirus epidemic. “I am pleased to see you all hopefully well”, the presiding judge Patrick Gerberding opened the session on Tuesday. At least two seats had to remain vacant between the visitors. Instead of a common dock there were individual tables. Hanover’s ex-mayor Stefan Schostok, his former office manager Frank Herbert and the former HR department head Harald Härke have to answer for serious infidelity. (Ref .: 70 KLs 12/19)

The public prosecutor’s office was originally supposed to give its closing lecture on the eighth day of the hearing, but the plea was postponed to Thursday (March 19). In addition, the criminal chamber will meet on Wednesday (March 18). With this trick, ten days of negotiations are achieved, which, according to the Code of Criminal Procedure, enables the main hearing to be interrupted for a longer period in the event of illness. Before the tenth day of the hearing, however, only a three-week break is possible. Should this be longer, it would have to be started from the beginning.

The presiding judge said that the process could not be completed in the next two days either because Herbert’s main defender was in self-chosen quarantine. The lawyer returned from a risk area on March 8th. Gerberding also addressed the problem of childcare for those involved in the proceedings. Schools and daycare centers in Lower Saxony have been closed since Monday, emergency care cannot be used by all professional groups, but only nurses and doctors, among others.

According to the indictment, Schostok did not immediately stop paying his bureau chief when he learned that they were illegal. The 55-year-old is accused of neglecting, but not actively doing. The mayor, who resigned after the charges were brought, considers himself innocent and is seeking an acquittal. On the previous day of the trial, Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil reported as a witness about a meeting with Schostok. At that time, Weil, according to his own statement, assumed that everything in the town hall was “legally compliant”.

Härke is said to have granted the inadmissible salary supplement of around 1300 euros per month for Herbert between April 2015 and May 2018. Overall, the state capital is said to have suffered damage of around 49,500 euros. Härke was the only accused to admit errors at the start of the trial.

The town hall affair played a large part in the fact that after more than 70 years of SPD rule there was a change at the top of the Lower Saxony state capital. In November 2019, Lower Saxony’s Green Party politician Belit Onay was elected as the new Lord Mayor. The former HR officer Härke was initially suspended and is now retired. Herbert was transferred to the youth and family department.

According to current planning, the three defense attorneys should give their closing speeches on March 30th. The verdict could then be announced on the Tuesday after Easter or in the week before Easter – provided everyone involved stays healthy.

Hanover’s former mayor Stefan Schostok was acquitted of the allegation of serious infidelity in the process of the so-called town hall affair. The criminal chamber of the Hanover Regional Court followed the defense’s request on Thursday. The SPD politician was relieved after the verdict was pronounced. “I am very happy with the verdict,” said Schostok with a smile. He was 55 years old, had only half his life behind him and was looking forward to the future. (Ref .: 70 KLs 12/19)

Shostok had resigned from his position after charges were brought and had been put into retirement. After more than 70 years, the SPD thus lost the top position in the city hall of Hanover, and the Green politician Belit Onay was elected as its successor.

Schostok’s ex-office manager Frank Herbert and the former HR director Harald Härke were also accused. Herbert received a fine of 20,400 euros (120 daily rates) for fraud by failure. Härke was sentenced to an eleven-month suspended sentence in three cases for serious infidelity. He also has to pay 20,000 euros to a non-profit organization.

Herbert had received illegal allowances between April 2015 and May 2018. As a result, the city suffered a total damage of around 49,500 euros. From October 2017 at the latest, Schostok is said to have known of the illegality of the allowance, but not to have stopped it. The public prosecutor had demanded an eight-month suspended sentence for the town hall chief for breach of trust through failure.

The court assessed this differently. Although Schostok took note of the illegality of the allowance in 2017, he, like his office manager, assumed that Härke had received the green light for the allowance from the local authority, said presiding judge Patrick Gerberding. But there was no approval. Härke said the untruth. When the Ministry of the Interior declared in May 2018 that there was no such permit, the OB stopped the allowance.

The judge admitted that Schostok could have questioned the local authority directly or a neutral lawyer as early as 2017. But the fact that he failed to do so does not constitute a criminal offense of willful infidelity. Negligent breach of trust is not punishable.

The starting point of the affair was the attempt to create a departmental position for Schostok’s chief lawyer, Herbert. However, this failed politically. Thereupon Herbert Härke urged, among other things, in e-mails to increase his salary. According to the court’s conviction, the hiring manager ordered the allowance even though his staff had made him aware of the illegality.

Härke was later suspected of having preferred his partner in a job advertisement. Therefore, in May 2017, he had a new note issued about the illegality of the allowance, said the presiding judge. Because Härke himself was under pressure, he now wanted to put pressure on the mayor and his office manager. After Schostok’s unsuccessful attempt to throw Härke out, information about the salary increase for Schostok’s office manager was scattered in political circles.

Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) was also heard as a witness in the process. Specifically, it was about a meeting with Schostok on March 1, 2018. In this conversation two years ago, Weil had assumed that everything was legally compliant in the town hall – despite initial media reports about possible “favoritism”.

The European Council is a cooking pot, the ECB has googly eyes: The European Greens have had EU plans for the banking union processed as a graphic. The result raises doubts about the goal of winding up credit institutions in just one weekend.

Deciding on the future of a bank in a single weekend – that sounds like a crazy undertaking. But this happened again and again during the financial crisis, including in Germany.

On the last weekend in September 2008, representatives of the federal government and the German financial sector put together a billion dollar rescue package for Hypo Real Estate, which was on the brink of collapse after the Lehman bankruptcy in the USA. The hours were dramatic, and a phone call between Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and the then Deutsche Bank boss Josef Ackermann only brought an agreement on Monday night.

EU is working on a joint resolution mechanism

In the next crisis, such decisions should be more orderly. After all, the European Union has been working on a banking union, which also includes a common resolution mechanism, in English: Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM) for some time. This should enable processing over the weekend “before the markets in Japan open on Monday,” said the new ECB director Sabine Lautenschläger recently.

But could such a pace really be maintained with the SRM? Green MEP Sven Giegold has great doubts about this. He had the current proposal of the European Council illustrated. In addition to the SRM, the European Central Bank and its future uniform banking supervision (SSM), the EU Commission, the national supervisory authorities and the European Council, i.e. the governments of the EU countries, also play a key role.

“Wuselbild” raises doubts about efficiency

The result: Where there should actually be a slim decision tree, there was quite a bustle because of the many participants and possible branches. The title in the English original of the graphic is correspondingly mocking: “Over the weekend? Really?”

Giegold is particularly bothered by the role of the European Council, which is shown as a cooking pot in the graphic. “One crow doesn’t prick the other’s eye,” he says. In other words: If states have a say in the resolution of banks from their own country, the end result is often costly and inefficient solutions.

The planned resolution fund also worries the Greens. This is gradually being filled by Europe’s banks with a total of 55 billion euros, which are initially managed separately by country. If, for example, a French bank should stumble, only the contributions of other institutions in France would initially be tapped, criticizes Giegold. “That leads to additional damage in this country.”

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Schäuble believes in quick decisions

The negotiations on the SRM between the EU Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council have only just begun. Germany’s finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) was not ready to compromise in advance. In response to criticism of the complex structures, he promised: “It can be done very quickly if it has to be.”

According to the public prosecutor’s office, the former mayor of Hanover, Stefan Schostok (SPD), is to receive an eight-month suspended sentence for serious infidelity. By October 2017 at the latest, Schostok had known of the illegality of the allowance for his then office boss Frank Herbert, but did not stop it, said Chief Prosecutor Hilke Markworth in her plea on Thursday in the Hanover regional court. At that time Schostok had photographed a note from the HR department and sent it to Herbert. In it, the allowance was examined with the conclusion that it was legally inadmissible. With the note, Schostok could not rely on the fact that he was only a social worker and did not deal with such things, stressed Markworth. “You don’t have to be a lawyer for that. Everyone can understand that.” (Ref .: 70 KLs 12/19)

The 55-year-old resigned as Lord Mayor after the indictment was brought. The town hall affair played a major role in the fact that after more than 70 years of SPD rule, there was a change at the top of the state capital. In November 2019, the Lower Saxony Green politician Belit Onay was elected as the new mayor.