German prosecutors have closed the illegal donations case involving the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party co-leader Alice Weidel, it has been reported. Germany had asked Switzerland for legal assistance concerning the affair.This content was published on September 20, 2021 - 16:15
According to news reports on MondayExternal link, the Office of the Attorney General of Constance has concluded that there is insufficient evidence for a violation of the German political parties law.
The public prosecutor's office had been investigating AfD co-leader Weidel and three other AfD officials for several years because of suspected party donations from Switzerland. The party had confirmed in November 2018 that a Swiss pharmaceutical company had transferred around €130 000 (CHF142,000) in several instalments to an AfD district association in 2017. The money was reportedly repaid in spring 2018.
German law only allows for party donations from outside the European Union if they are made by German citizens. Every campaign donation above €50,000 needs to be immediately reported to parliament’s president.
The dividing-up of political donations in order to conceal them would only be punishable under German law if the recipient had participated in the affair, the prosecutor’s office said. In Weidel's case, however, there was not sufficient evidence for an indictment, an office spokesperson said on Monday.
The AfD had initially submitted to the German parliament (Bundestag) the names of 14 Germans and other EU citizens allegedly behind the donations. Later, however, according to the Bundestag administration, it declared that it "did not have reliable information as to who the true donor was". Germany’s parliamentary watchdog fined the party over €400,000 eurosExternal link for violating party donation rules. The Berlin Administrative Court rejected an appeal by the AfD in June.
Weidel, 42, is co-chair of the AfD's parliamentary group in the German parliament and spokesperson for the state party in Baden-Württemberg.
On Monday, Weidel’s spokesperson said she was satisfied that the criminal investigation had been dropped. Weidel had "never been accused of any culpable action" in this case, her spokesperson said. "This has now also been established by the Constance public prosecutor's office after almost three years… and all groundless public speculation is finally removed".
In January 2019, it was reported that Germany had filed a request for mutual legal assistance with Switzerland with regard to potentially illegal donations allegedly made via a Swiss company intended for Alice Weidel’s election campaign.