Exclusive: AfD Politician Maximilian Krah Questioned by FBI for Suspicious Cash Transactions

2024-04-17 16:00:39


As of: April 17, 2024 6:00 p.m

According to research by the AfD politician Krah WDR, NDR and SZ had a four-figure sum of cash with him during an FBI check in December last year. The FBI questioned Krah because he was suspected of receiving payments from a pro-Russian activist.

By Florian Flade, Katja Riedel, WDR and Sebastian Pittelkow, NDR

According to joint research by WDR, NDR and “Süddeutscher Zeitung”, the AfD European MP Maximilian Krah is said to have had a large sum of cash with him on a trip to the USA last December, which the FBI is said to have asked him about. When asked, Krah admitted that he had “around 3,000 euros” with him as a “cash reserve”. He took the money with him because he forgot his card case in the office in Brussels.

He needed the money to pay for his hotel and some food. An originally planned “Christmas shopping” was canceled. But he also used the money to reimburse his good friend David Bendels, the editor-in-chief of the right-wing populist Deutschland-Kurier, for his seat at the event he wanted to attend in New York. At that time, Krah and several other AfD politicians were at a meeting with the “Young Republicans” in New York, which Donald Trump also took part in. This event was partially sponsored by “Deutschland-Kurier”.

Krah: One hour conversation with FBI

It was an eventful trip for Krah. According to a report by “Spiegel” and ZDF, the US investigators are said to have presented Krah with an older chat history when he entered the country, which was said to have discussed possible payments to him. A message from pro-Russian activist Oleg Woloshin to Krah is said to have mentioned “compensations” for Krah’s “technical expenses.” When asked, Krah said that he had not read the chat message in question and therefore did not answer it. He did not accept any money from Voloshin. Voloshin also confirmed this to “Spiegel”, who spoke of possible reimbursement of travel costs, which were never incurred. The conversation with the FBI lasted an hour, reports Krah.

All of this is apparently related to international investigations into a Russian influence network. The investigation into the network surrounding the Internet portal “Voice of Europe” and its alleged backers has been taking place for several months in Poland and the Czech Republic through a joint operation by the local intelligence services ABW and BIS. Information is said to have been gained about several people who were said to have worked as money couriers for Moscow. According to the results of the investigation so far, these actors in turn are said to have met with European politicians several times.

Maximilian Krah and the AfD member of the Bundestag Petr Bystron are said to have come into focus. German security authorities have so far found it difficult to determine whether payments were made to AfD politicians. The Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office has initiated preliminary investigations against Bystron for bribery of officials. But without evidence, they could not request that the immunity of Bundestag member Bystron, who is said to be the subject of these international investigations, be lifted. This means they cannot initiate an official investigation. There are no investigations or preliminary investigations against Maximilian Krah.

Sparse information from the Czech Republic

German authorities are said to have only received scant information from the Czech Republic about the case. An alleged audio recording of a suspicious conversation between Petr Bystron by the Czech secret service, which the Czech newspaper “Denik N” reported on with reference to information from Czech government circles, has not yet been transmitted.

Meanwhile, according to information from WDR, NDR and SZ even question whether an audio file of a conversation between Bystron and a suspected Russian agent of influence even exists. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) only received summaries of the facts. These are said to be common reports based on intelligence findings, although their exact origin is unclear. Petr Bystron denies all allegations of ever accepting money.

Searches in Poland

At the end of March, Polish investigators searched several apartments in Warsaw and the southern city of Tychy and questioned suspects. Several pieces of evidence are said to have been confiscated, indicating a coordinated effort to influence European politics. The aim of the Russian espionage network is “to implement the Kremlin’s foreign policy interests”, including weakening Poland’s position on the international stage and discrediting Ukraine and EU institutions, said a spokesman for the Polish counterintelligence agency ABW.

Two years ago, Polish investigators were on the trail of a suspected influence operation that was said to have been controlled from Moscow. At that time, Bystron and Krah also came under the radar of Polish counterintelligence. As part of the legal assistance, the Polish investigators asked the German authorities in the summer of 2022 to question Krah and Bystron as well as the AfD members of the Bundestag Steffen Kotre and Stefan Keuter.

#findings #allegations #AfD #politician #Krah

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