Confidential documents show that former Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel pleaded with Chancellor Merkel in April 2020 for a Deutsche Bank concern. Other ex-leaders also act as door openers for corporations and lobby associations – sometimes with great success.
In April 2020, a "Strictly Confidential" letter arrives at the Federal Chancellery, which begins with flattery :" Dear Chancellor, thank you very much for the telephone call this morning. I'm honestly pretty glad you're 'on deck' right now."The author of the fanpost is not a party friend of Angela Merkel, but a long-standing opponent: ex-SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel.
The former minister and Vice-Chancellor has every reason to activate the short wire to the Chancellor on this spring day. A few weeks earlier, he had been nominated as a member of the Supervisory Board of Deutsche Bank. This now has an important concern – and Merkel should help.
Gabriel's name is probably the most prominent on a long list, which proves the sometimes intensive lobbying efforts of former ministers:interior and parliamentary state secretaries. At least 509 times have the page changers:inside been in contact with the Chancellor and her government team in the current legislative period, not infrequently they were in the interest or on behalf of corporations, interest groups or as freelance consultants:inside.
In some cases, they tried to influence political decisions or put issues on the agenda. This is based on research by abgeordnetenwatch.de and TIME ONLINE. These are based on internal documents as well as on answers of the Federal Government to parliamentary questions of the Left Party.
Contacts with Guttenberg, Brüderle, Zypries: what it was about is not always clear
In addition to Gabriel, the list includes, for example, the former head of the Ministry of Defense (BMVg), Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (CSU) and his predecessor Franz Josef Jung (CDU), who is now paid by the arms company Rheinmetall (more on two lobbying contacts between Guttenberg and Jung can be found here and here).
The former FDP ministers Rainer Brüderle, Daniel Bahr and Philipp Rösler are also represented in the lineup, as is Brigitte Zypries from the SPD. What their talks with the federal government were about is not always clear: often no concrete content of the talks is indicated in the lobby list ("general topics"). The clients also remain unnamed, as in the case of Sigmar Gabriel.
Internal government documents that abgeordnetenwatch.de and ZEIT ONLINE about the Freedom of Information Act (IFG), now prove for the first time that the former Vice Chancellor lobbied Angela Merkel in April 2020 in the interests of Deutsche Bank. In order to help the banking industry in the corona pandemic, Merkel should commit to the suspension of the bank levy at EU level. Today's Eurogroup meeting could be a good opportunity to examine this path, Gabriel recommended in his email of 9 April. As an aid to the Chancellor's argument, he had attached a Deutsche Bank idea paper. "I find the idea responsible and helpful," says Gabriel.
Gabriel's commitment to Deutsche Bank is also astounding because he had ruled out working as a lobbyist in the past. Shortly after his departure as Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor in March 2018, he had told "Bild": "You should not knock on doors behind which you have once sat."
In the summer of 2019, Group CEO Christian Sewing announced a restructuring plan that will affect one in five jobs worldwide by 2022, a total of 18.000. Gabriel should help with his government experience and his good contacts with the trade unions to carry out this workplace massacre. He can work with the former Verdi BOSS Frank Bsirske, who has been on the Supervisory Board of Deutsche Bank for years and has also retained his mandate after leaving the trade union chairmanship for age reasons.
166,000 Euros as Supervisory Board member at Deutsche Bank
Less than two years later, Gabriel did not only knock at the Chancellor's door. In January 2020, he had important things to discuss with his party friend Olaf Scholz, the Federal Minister of Finance and today's SPD chancellor candidate. Neither Gabriel nor the Federal Ministry of Finance want to say what the appointment was about. Five months later, he also exchanged views with the head of the Chancellery, Helge Braun, on a draft of the planned Occupational Safety and Health Control Act (ArbSchG). In what capacity or on whose behalf? That, too, remains unclear.
Gabriel himself finds his current contacts with the federal government anything but strange. He" did not conduct any of these conversations on behalf of or against payment, " explains the ex-minister on request. In any case, he is well paid in his function as a Supervisory Board member at Deutsche Bank. According to the Annual report, his remuneration last year was 166,667 euros.