Former German president charged over ‘bribe’

Former German president Christian Wulff was charged yesterday with accepting a bribe in exchange for a political favour, a year after a broader corruption probe forced him to resign from the post.

Wulff was picked by chancellor Angela Merkel for the job of head of state in 2010. But he stood down after 20 months when prosecutors said they suspected he had accepted undue privileges and asked parliament to lift his immunity.

Lower Saxony state prosecutors suspect Wulff of lobbying Siemens AG to help market the film John Rabe after a movie producer paid Wulff’s expenses during a trip to Munich’s Oktoberfest beer festival in 2008.

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The producer, David Groenewold, faces the same charges of corruption and bribery after footing a bill for Wulff totalling thousands of euros, the prosecutors said in a statement.
Wulff’s lawyers said they would seek to clear his name.

“The charge of corruption… is unfounded,” they said in a ­statement.

One of Groenewold’s lawyers said the charges did not come as a surprise. Earlier this week, they publicly maintained their ­client’s innocence.

Wulff’s reputation took a hammering when newspaper Bild accused him of misleading the state assembly over a cheap home loan from a businessman friend. He later apologised for threatening the editor with “war”. Allegations about free flight upgrades, hotel stays and gifts further undermined his credibility.