WHow to blame mayor Alexander Immisch (SPD) for the loss of 19 million euros as a result of the Greensill bankruptcy? The city councilors of Schwalbach am Taunus argued for hours about the final report of the Greensill file inspection committee presented by the SPD parliamentary group chairman Eyke Grüning. The SPD / CDU coalition and the opposition made up of the Greens and FDP came to completely different assessments.
The files contained no clues and certainly no evidence that the mayor had influenced the investment strategy, Grüning reported. Suspicions, which some members believe there are, cannot be substantiated by the files. For the opposition, on the other hand, the mayor has “crossed a red line at the facilities,” as Arnold Bernhardt (The Greens) noted.
The focal point of the affair is a magistrate’s resolution, according to which the money should not have been invested in the private Greensill Bank. Immisch’s assertion that he was not informed of this requirement by the tax authorities when he took office, sees the opposition as invalidated by the files.
In three documents, which are signed by the mayor, reference is made to the municipal decision. In addition, Immisch discussed the cash flows with the employees on a weekly basis, which is why the main responsibility for the loss of millions lies with the mayor, said Bernhardt. “He wanted to avoid penalty interest and took a risk.” Anyone who gives their employees free rein with such high amounts is to be subject to “insufficient duty of care”.
The risk begins when Immisch takes office, said the Green Katja Lindenau. Since employees made 14 deals, eleven of which had meanwhile been deposited in unsafe facilities with a total value of 44 million euros, and yet the mayor is not aware of the resolution, she criticized. Stephanie Müller (FDP) added that documents that you sign must also be read.
For Lukas Bosina (Die Grünen) there are only two possible interpretations: “Either Immisch knew about the municipal decision and deliberately ignored it, or he worked as sloppily as no manager should.” Thomas Nordmeyer (Die Grünen ) repeated the demand that the mayor should resign.
In contrast, Katrin Behrens (CDU) took Immisch into protection. The opposition assumed knowledge that the files did not reveal. However, his approach is characterized by a lack of accuracy and lack of expertise, which runs like a red thread through the files. There is an urgent need for action here.
They want to pillory the mayor. The files clearly proved: The steep thesis of the single perpetrator Immisch is gone, said Jan Frey (SPD). No evidence of active action by Immisch could be found. Daniela Hommel (CDU) shared this assessment: It was not evident that investments were a matter for the boss at this time, she said. The committee had examined files with regard to a violation of the duty of care by the mayor, and it should be noted: “He has not worked properly,” contradicted Yvonne Storch (FDP). You call this grossly negligent behavior.
Claudia Ludwig (SPD) referred to a person who, according to the files, was repeatedly in e-mails about the investments. “One clear initiative with the Greensill facilities came from someone on the city treasury,” she said. The initiative did not come from Immisch.
Different file interpretations
After the bankruptcy became known, the mayor had warned the person who, according to his statements, had not informed him of the municipal decision. For reasons of data protection law, the mayor was not allowed to present this warning to the file inspection committee. Likewise, the city council had to limit themselves to studying files.
Axel Fink (CDU) therefore showed understanding for the different interpretations of files. The result must remain unsatisfactory since it was not a committee of inquiry. Clarification can only be expected from the public prosecutor’s office, which – as reported – is investigating Immisch. Fink warned the opposition not to confuse value judgments with assertions of fact. Some of the allegations were defamation that a less docile man than Immisch would file a criminal complaint against them.