Why did a tax official from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania burn a tax return from the politically highly controversial Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Climate Foundation? Now there are answers.
The Schwerin state parliament’s investigative committee on the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Climate Foundation has looked into the burning of tax documents known as “Chimney Gate”.
As a witness, the tax officer testified that in April 2022 she burned missing documents from the foundation’s gift tax return because she had not processed them for months. She acted in pure panic, the clerk said haltingly and through tears. Nobody influenced her to burn the foundation’s tax return. “At that time I was dominated by fear and panic,” said the witness.
The climate foundation was founded at the beginning of 2021 by resolution of the state parliament of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in order to be able to complete the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline while circumventing threats of sanctions from the USA against the companies involved. Nord Stream 2 AG, a subsidiary of the Russian state-owned company Gazprom, was the foundation’s largest donor with around 20 million euros. The investigative committee is intended to clarify how great the influence of the Russian donors was on the then SPD/CDU state government when the foundation was founded.
“Biggest mistake of my life”
The tax officer said burning the documents was the biggest mistake of her life so far. However, the contents of the tax return could still be understood because copies of the submitted returns were later made.
The clerk working in the “Inheritance and Donations” department was in training at the time. She burned the missing tax files in a fireplace in the spring of 2022 after noticing that they had been sitting on a shelf at her house for some time. When asked whether there had been contact with the state government, the woman clearly answered no. There was also no expectation that there should be no gift tax for the foundation. The opposition in the Schwerin state parliament suspects that political pressure has been built up by the state government in the case.
The woman’s interrogation took place with limited publicity; there was only an audio broadcast of the meeting. Criminal proceedings against the officer were discontinued in autumn 2022 against a monetary condition.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.