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Berlin has Few Corruption Cases, but Fight Continues

In Berlin, the city state’s Senator of Justice Dirk Behrendt (photo above) and Chief Prosecutor Rüdiger Reiff have presented a report about their fight against corruption in 2018. The number of new cases with suspicions related to corruption increased from 114 in 2017 to 134.

The report also reveals that there are no new high-level corruption cases. In only 15 cases, the prosecution pressed charges against the accused. A total of 102 proceedings were closed because the initial suspicions could not be sustained.

In spite of the small number of actual cases, Berlin’s Senate Administration of Justice will continue to fight corruption. “Fighting corruption is important for democracy”, Senator Behrendt, a member of the German Greens, said. “Corruption is a cancer which undermines trust in constitutional, democratic institutions.”

For several years now, Berlin has had a successful prevention program, Behrendt told the press. He mentioned the city state’s Anti-Corruption Office, headed by Prosecutor Reiff. The Senate Administration also has a Trusted Lawyer, Fabian Tietz, who can be contacted on the basis of anonymity.

Tietz said employees in several Berlin Senate Administrations had contacted him. In many cases he was being made aware of occurrences not related to corruption at all. But the few real cases had been forwarded to the prosecution.

Berlin only has two prominent corruption cases. In one of those, the proceedings for which will now move to a higher court, a high-ranking Berlin police officer was recently convicted. The judge in charge came to the conclusion that the officer warned owners of gambling halls, restaurants and pubs of imminent police raids. In exchange, he received monthly payments.

In July of 2018, an employee of the German Embassy in Beirut was charged for corruption as well. He is suspected of having sold appointments at the embassy’s visa office for 100 to 1000 U.S. Dollars per person. Here, the lawsuit will commence on October 28th, 2019.

Prosecutor Reiff stated, his Anti-Corruption Office had received 453 clues in 2018. Out of those, he had forwarded 15 to the prosecution in Berlin and three to colleagues in other regions. According to him, Berlin has a “vanishingly low number of corruption proceedings”. But he believes there are more actual cases nobody except for the culprits know about.

At a press conference on Thursday The Berlin Spectator asked Reiff whether he passed on advice to European countries such as Bulgaria and Romania, where the rampant corruption did a lot of damage. He said that in two cases, he had held speeches in Romania. Also Romanian law students came to his office once a year.

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