World News

German parliament fines AfD for breaching party donation rules

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s parliamentary watchdog has ordered the far-right opposition party Alternative for Germany (AfD) to pay a fine of more than 400,000 euros for violating party donation rules, the AfD said on Tuesday.

The party said it would appeal the decision by the parliament’s administration, which said the AfD had breached rules prohibiting German parties from receiving donations from entities outside the European Union.

German media have reported that two AfD members had funded their campaigns in two German state elections in 2016 and 2017 in part with donations from Goal AG, a public relations company based in Switzerland, which is not an EU member.

A spokesman for the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament, was not immediately available for comment. The Swiss company also could not immediately be reached for comment.

The fine is the latest setback for the anti-immigrant AfD, whose co-leader Alice Weidel is already being investigated by prosecutors on suspicion of violating party donation rules.

The AfD said the decision to fine it was politically motivated. It said the two party members accused of receiving the donations - Joerg Meuthen and Guido Reil - were running in next month’s European Parliament elections.

Germany’s main political parties refuse to work with the AfD, which was propelled into the national parliament for the first time in a 2017 election, and accuse some of its members of racism and playing down Nazi crimes.

A German court in February banned the domestic spy agency from classifying the AfD as a “case to investigate”. The agency said it wanted to examine whether the AfD had breached constitutional safeguards against extremism.

Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Gareth Jones