BERLIN Feb 7 The treasurer of Chancellor Angela
Merkel's conservatives said on Friday he did not violate any
laws or dodge taxes despite holding a half million dollars in
foreign bank accounts but would still resign to avert damage to
his party and family.
Helmut Linssen, a former state finance minister in North
Rhine-Westphalia and the treasurer of the Christian Democrats
(CDU) since 2010, told Bild newspaper that he had held some
420,000 euros in tax havens on behalf of his elderly mother.
Linssen, who has been CDU treasurer since 2010 and was the
CDU's finance minister for Germany's most populous state from
2005 to 2010, said he had done nothing illegal.
"I decided, in the interest of my party and my family, to
ask the party leader (Merkel) to find a new treasurer at the
next party congress in April," Linssen told Bild. "I did not do
any tricks. I was only trying to help my mother and followed the
letter of the law."
In another interview with the local Neue Ruhr Zeitung,
Linssen said: "I did nothing wrong. But I'm not going to let
myself be paraded around the circus ring by a nose ring."
It is only the latest tax affair to hit German politicians
and celebrities. Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit is under pressure
to resign because he knew for years that his culture minister
Andre Schmitz had evaded taxes but still allowed him to stay in
The matter reflects badly on Wowereit, who knew that
proceedings had been initiated against Schmitz but then halted
in 2012. The mayor is already facing public criticism over
lengthy delays and ballooning costs for Berlin's new airport.
Germany's front pages have been dominated in recent days
by public confessions from feminist activist Alice Schwarzer
about tax evasion. Schwarzer, an anti-pornography campaigner
seen by feminists as a moral authority, said she had paid back
200,000 euros in taxes plus default interest to the authorities
for the last decade.
These affairs follow a scandal over Bayern Munich soccer
club president Uli Hoeness, who is to stand trial for tax
evasion in March.
(Writing by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Stephen Powell)