"control bodies have failed": analysis of two corruption cases

Posted by deaguero at 2020-02-17

Two cases, similar mechanisms? The economist and former SPD politician Ulrich Steger analyzes the structures of the Wiesbaden Politfilz and the Awo affair.

Local Editor Wiesbaden

Ulrich Steger is an economist and politician. (Photo: Birgit Emnet)

It's the same in both cases. The failure of the control bodies in Wiesbaden's Politfilz as well as in the Awo affair made it easier for the protagonists to play their increasingly unscrupulous game. Professor Ulrich Steger, an emeritus university professor and former SPD federal and state politician, has researched governance issues as an economist and recognises typical structures of corruption and abuse of power.

Mr. Steger, Wiesbaden is going up right now. The public debate is dominated by political fairs and almost unbelievable conditions at a recognised charity. How do you see the situation as a scientist?

There's definitely a pattern there. In both cases, urban policy and Awo, the control bodies have failed or have been successively dismantled. Above all, co-conspirators were made co-conspirators to secure power. Nevertheless, there are differences.

They are?

At the Awo, there was a kind of regiment after the reign of the landlord, very family-related. Here we see an organizational failure, "the fish stinks of the head". The Lorenz system, as I call it, is more sophisticated: Mr Lorenz has put his Buddies everywhere, it works even without him. And he was more adept at complying with formalities.

So, externally and from a strictly legal point of view, first, apparently, within the limits of what is permitted?

Right. As a lawyer he knew the appropriate instruments, this keyboard has played successfully for years with some skill. He's systematically obliterating everything. Even if you cannot prove to him in criminal law what he always celebrates, his actions are politically and morally wrong.

It is also fascinating for observers how, in both cases, borders have obviously shifted.

The standards of self-perception and justification are also changing, as is what is considered permissible. And greed grows with the seemingly easy success at first. The ancient Greeks say: power corrupted, absolute power corrupted absolutely. The frog example comes to mind: if you put a frog in boiling hot water, it jumps out. If you put him in cold water and turn the temperature up slowly, he does not notice and dies.

Is it a feature of these structures that it is eventually coated so that it is exposed?

That at least Mr. Lorenz has noticed what the hour is, but also the Awo with its massive use of lawyers, shows the typical reaction of the dropouts: they knew when a whistle blower pierces, more comes. The dams are breaking.

But how could it have come to this? In both cases, we are talking about years to decades of unauthorised activity.

At the Awo there was a system of unbridled enrichment. Not only have private levels been mixed up with business, even family levels have been mixed up with business; in both cases, the control bodies have failed long and systematically. The actors were able to act and act at their discretion. The legal conditions were there, the Awo has a BGB board. But the professionalisation of control was lacking. The volunteer district council was far too demanding without economic expertise.

So this kind of control doesn't work at all with honorary employees?

If the expert isn't there, you have to get him outside. But at the Awo Wiesbaden there is another component: here too the "obvious question" was missing. It should have come from the control body, the district council, at the latest with the creation of the Somacon. A subsidiary in England is absolutely absurd. It is not compatible with German Community law. This is a "red flag", so to speak. There were also plenty of examples at the circle level where one could have looked. Examples: high salaries or the staff pool. Also the lump-sum payments, i.e. honorary allowances for main officials, are not possible. Or bonuses when it comes to tax money. The sale-and-lease-back shop at the Konrad-Arndt-Haus in Bierstadt is also strange. You only do that when the water's up to your neck. The board of directors should look at the difference between the reported balance sheet gain and the cash flow. In the case of balance sheets, the cash flow is the fact.

And by the city of Wiesbaden, where do you see the need for action?

The urban societies in their infinite number have emerged as the "playground" in the post office chessboard. Here the question arises: why two directors? The four-eye principle can also be done with prosecutors. But this is an "Amigos system".

And a view? You see silver stripes on the horizon?

In any case, the fact that the Hessenauer/Betz duo has now taken over the Awo is positive. They're not corrupt and they know the system. You can't do it without tabula rasa, the complete and clean cut. The Awo has a working substructure that could be refurbished in two years. The city of Wiesbaden is more complicated.

Because of the political situation?

Lorenz has implemented his system. Like I said, it works without him. This work is far from finished. I expect five to seven years. I also see here, incidentally, the responsibility of the voters. These are the strengths of democracy, as opposed to authoritarian systems, despite individual negative outliers: there are checks and balances, there are control bodies and restrictions, there is free press and an independent judiciary. And that's comforting.