Corruption scandal in Angela Merkel’s party. Two lawmakers resign after revelations that they have personally benefited from the COVID-19 pandemic

The regional elections are seen as a critical test for Armin Laschet, the new leader of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, who was elected in January and is still trying to strengthen her authority over the party.

CDU MP Nikolas Löbel announced on Sunday that he was retiring from politics after it was learned that a company he owned had earned a commission of 250,000 euros acting as an intermediary between a mask supplier in Baden-Württemberg and two private companies.

The MP, who is also the general manager of a company in the southern German city of Mannheim called Löbel Projektmanagement, said he was resigning immediately from the CDU / CSU. He also said that he will resign from the parliament at the end of August and will not run again for the September elections, Politico reports.

“Being a member of the German Bundestag and being able to represent my hometown of Mannheim is a great honor and a moral obligation in particular. With my actions I failed to live up to these standards. For this I would like to apologize to everyone in this country. “, he wrote in a post on social media.

Party leader Armin Laschet said Löbel should give up his seat in the Bundestag immediately.

Löbel’s resignation came just two days after CSU MP Georg Nüsslein was forced to resign as deputy leader of the CDU / CSU parliamentary group in a similar scandal. Nüsslein, who is now being investigated for corruption, said he was retiring from politics.

Nüsslein earned a large commission after his consulting firm helped negotiate a large supply of masks from a Chinese supplier during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Investigators last week searched the company’s headquarters in Germany and Liechtenstein, including Nüsslein’s office in the Bundestag and his district office in southern Bavaria in connection with the case. Nüsslein has denied the allegations of corruption, the Financial Times reports.

Opposition politicians have speculated that they are launching attacks on the ruling coalition.

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