War of the Roses of the Friends of Russia : Manuela Schwesig’s “Climate Foundation”

Posted on May 25, 2022


War of the Roses of the Friends of Russia

Chaos and controversy over Manuela Schwesig’s “Climate Foundation”: Does the foundation have to pay a fine because it didn’t report the Gazprom millions as a gift to the tax office in good time? “Cicero” voiced this suspicion last week. Now it is said that the tax returns were submitted in good time and that an exemption from gift tax was applied for. But the responsible tax office is said to have lost the declarations.

BY ULRICH THIELE on April 20, 2022

For Manuela Schwesig, the air is getting thinner and thinner, because the revelations about her Gazprom involvement just don’t stop. Not only did Welt am Sonntag recently make public how much the Prime Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania was influenced by Nord Stream 2 AG when she founded her “Climate Foundation”. In addition, the question of the gift tax that has not yet been paid is becoming a serious problem – further research is now revealing chaotic and dubious structures in Schwesig’s state and a war of roses with harsh allegations.

Last week, Cicero reported the suspicion that Manuela Schwesig’s “Climate Foundation” may not have reported her Russian donations of millions to the tax office in good time – which would result in high fines. The state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania founded the Foundation for Climate and Environmental Protection MV in early 2021 in order to circumvent US sanctions with a business operation under the guise of climate protection and to promote the construction of the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Nord Stream 2 also made a €20 million endowment to the foundation.

10 million euros gift tax

The MV climate and environmental protection foundation is not officially recognized as a non-profit foundation and therefore does not receive the tax breaks of a non-profit foundation – in its statute it only prescribes goals oriented towards the common good. The 20 million euros that the foundation received from Nord Stream 2 AG should therefore be subject to gift tax. With such a sum, the tax even amounts to the top tax rate of 50 percent. In that case, contrary to what was previously claimed, not 20 million but only around 10 million euros would be available for climate protection goals.

At Cicero ‘s request , the foundation said in early April that it had submitted gift tax returns, but refused to provide more specific information. Last week, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s Finance Minister Heiko Geue (SPD) announced that no gift tax had been paid by the foundation so far, because the checks “whether and to what extent the donations to the foundation meet an element of the Inheritance and Gift Tax Act have not yet been completed are”.

That will be expensive

Every donation must be reported to the tax office in writing within three months. If the donation is not reported or is reported too late, criminal prosecution may result for tax evasion. However, this could also be avoided if the board of directors voluntarily paid 20 percent of the evaded tax to the state treasury. If the foundation had not reported the presumed gift tax liability of almost 10 million euros for the endowment of Nord Stream 2 in good time, this additional payment would have been 2 million euros – in that case there would even be the possibility that the foundation board would be headed by the ex-prime minister Erwin Sellering is privately liable for this. Cicero expressed reasonable suspicion that this is the case.

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