Corruption in “Gorch-Fock” restructuring: First charges filed

Status: 01/17/2022 11:56 a.m

In the corruption affair surrounding the naval sailor “Gorch Fock” and the investigations into the Elsflether shipyard, the public prosecutor’s office has brought charges – including against two ex-board members.

The investigators from the Osnabrück public prosecutor’s office and the Oldenburg police want to hold six suspects accountable in a first complex. The former shipyard management is accused of granting benefits in the amount of 800,000 euros, a civilian employee of the Navy taking advantage. In addition, charges of breach of trust, unauthorized banking transactions and delay in bankruptcy were raised. According to investigators, further charges are possible. The Special Commission (Soko) “Water” has not yet been able to prove a connection between alleged bribes and the explosion in costs in the renovation of the “Gorch Fock”.

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Shipyard employees are said to have diverted eleven million euros

The investigations into the environment of the insolvent Elsflether Werft led to further charges of embezzlement and corruption offenses against former board members of Elsflether Werft AG and against those responsible for subcontractors at the time. In a separate process, the shipyard management and two former employees would also be accused of having diverted loans from shipyard funds amounting to almost eleven million euros. According to the information, a large part of the money flowed into a gold mining project in Mongolia, which in fact belonged to two of the accused. The outflow of these funds is said to have contributed to the insolvency of the shipyard in 2018.

Allegations against subcontractors for kick-back payments

In addition, in a further complex of investigations, several persons responsible for subcontractors were charged with bribery. They are said to have subsequently credited the shipyard with 15 percent of the invoice amount for repair orders for the navy for years. A procedure called “kick-back”. In one case, a managing director has already been legally sentenced to a fine, and further charges have been filed with the District Court of Brake (district of Wesermarsch). According to the interim status of the investigators, the courts have not yet decided on the admission of the charges and the opening of the main proceedings in all cases.

Investigations against Elsflether Werft are ongoing

In the “mammoth proceedings” in the vicinity of the Elsflether shipyard, there were a total of 65 searches and investigations against 98 suspects. 15 police investigators, four public prosecutors and an economics officer were active in the Soko. In a fourth complex – among other things because of commercial fraud and bribery in business dealings – the investigations are not yet complete, the public prosecutor’s office in Osnabrück said.

Further information

The Gorch Fock from the side front view is moored in the harbour.  Photo: Christian Wolf

The Ministry of Defense has filed a lawsuit against managers of the Elsflether shipyard at the Oldenburg District Court. (07.01.2022) more

the "Gorch Fock" is towed by tugboats from the port in Wilhelmshaven.  © dpa-Bildfunk Photo: Sina Schuldt

The Lürssen shipyard handed over the three-master in Wilhelmshaven. From there the ship is heading towards Kiel. (09/30/2021) more

The Gorch Fock under full sail in 1976 © dpa / Picture Alliance Photo: Kurt Scholz

Hardly any German ship is better known than the “Gorch Fock”. The renovation of the Navy training ship had become a debacle. more

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NDR 1 Lower Saxony | Current | 01/17/2022 | 10:00 a.m

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