Facing tax evasion accusations, Helmut Linssen has announced that he will resign as treasurer of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic party (CDU). He was reported to have 420,000 euros in tax shelters.
Linssen, the former finance minister of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, was reported to have kept the equivalent of $570,000 in accounts in Bermuda and Panama. On Thursday, he told the mass-circulation German newspaper Bild that he would give up his post.
"I have decided in the interest of the party and my family to ask the party chairman to elect a new treasurer at the upcoming party congress in April," Linssen, 71, told Bild on Thursday.
He had been treasurer of the CDU since November 2010.
Bild reported that Linssen had made his decision after speaking to Chancellor Angela Merkel, also the CDU's chief, over the telephone. Peter Tauber, the party's secretary-general, said the faction would accept Linssen's resignation.
Earlier this week, the German magazine Stern reported that Linssen had kept the money in the countries between 1997 and 2004, originally transferring it in the form of 800,000 deutsche marks through a bank in Luxembourg. According to Stern, the money first went to the bank in the Bahamas, which closed in 2001 and then reopened in Panama.
Linssen has said that "keeping money in foreign countries is not prohibited" and that he hadn't done so to evade taxes. He claimed to have inherited the money from his parents and said they had already paid any taxes on it.
The resignation is one of several major tax stories in Germany over the past week.
mkg/dr (Reuters, dpa)
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