Germany's Kohl testifies about Flick donations
Parliamentary investigation of allegations that industrialists secretly bought political influence reached a new high this week when deputies cross-examined Chancellor Helmut Kohl for almost seven hours.
Dr. Kohl admitted he had asked the Friedrich Flick Corporation, the republic's largest holding company, for financial support during the 1970s. Eberhard von Brauchitsch, then Flick's general director, always brought the money himself, in cash in unmarked envelopes, Kohl said. The chancellor said he never counted the money. He handed the envelopes, unopened, to the party treasurer.
''But Flick made contributions to the other parliamentary parties in the same manner,'' the chancellor said.
Kohl denied that Flick ever asked him or his party for any favors in return for the contributions, or that he ever discussed the corporation's tax problems with Mr. von Brauchitsch.
He said he could not account for claims von Brauchitsch made in written reports to Friedrich Flick that Kohl had promised to deal with any Christian Democratic members of Parliament who might object to the corporation being granted a capital gains tax waiver after it sold shares in the Daimler-Benz automobile company.
The Kohl testimony came in the wake of Rainer Barzel's resignation from the presidency of Parliament.
Mr. Barzel, Kohl's predecessor as leader of the Christian Democratics, resigned after deputies discovered he had secretly been on Flick's payroll ever since he resigned the party leadership - even during the period he spent as chairman of the parliamentary committee on economic affairs.
The investigative committee began cross-examining Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher Thursday afternoon. The minister of economics who approved a capital gains tax waiver for Flick was a member of his Free Democratic Party and resigned when indicted for allegedly accepting bribes from Flick.
The committee was particularly interested in an anonymous contribution of 6 million marks (about $2 million) made to the party sometime last year. Before Mr. Genscher began testifying, party spokesmen said the contribution could not have bought influence with the Free Democrats, since they did not know who presented the gift.
Philipp Jenninger, for years Kohl's closest adviser, was elected Monday to succeed Barzel as parliamentary president. In his acceptance speech, Mr. Jenninger called on members to reconsider their code of conduct.
But he said he did not want them to start wearing ''glass pockets.''