An arms dealer with close ties to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats was jailed for tax evasion on Wednesday. Karlheinz Schreiber, who was at the center of a party funding scandal that brought down former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, is to serve eight years in prison.
The 76-year-old German-Canadian had fought extradition for 10 years after being arrested in Toronto in 1999 but eventually he was sent back to Germany last year to face a number of charges.
Schreiber was originally indicted on charges of tax evasion and bribery in connection with weapons deals. He was accused of taking undeclared commissions from a deal in the early 1990s to deliver Fuchs armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia.
In the end, the court in the Bavarian city of Augsburg only considered the tax evasion charges after finding that the statute of limitations had expired on a bribery charge. The court found him guilty of failing to report some 14.6 million deutsche marks, or €7.3 million ($10 million) in income between 1988 and 1993.
Party Financing Scandal
"The accused is the type of person only concerned with his own advantage," presiding judge Rudolf Weigell said on Wednesday. He told the court that Schreiber would bribe "anyone and anything if things aren't going to plan."
Schreiber had also been involved in a party financing scandal that rocked the CDU in the 1990s and forced the then honorary party leader Kohl to step down. The arms dealer was alleged to have given a cash donation to the party treasurer and it subsequently emerged that Kohl had also taken illegal off-the-books donations from supporters.
The scandal almost ruined current Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble's career when he was forced to resign as head of the party in 2000 after admitting to taking bribes from Schreiber. Ultimately the scandal paved the way for Merkel to take over as leader.