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More charged besides Engel in CSV swindle case

More charged besides Engel in CSV swindle case

by Yannick LAMBERT 2 min. 12.07.2021 From our online archive
Prosecutor's office confirms RTL report that more members must face court, does not want to mention names
Frank Engel, former CSV party president
Frank Engel, former CSV party president
Photo credit: Guy Jallay

A court case charging former Christian Democrat Party President Frank Engel with abuse of assets and fraud has widened to further members of the largest opposition party, Luxembourg's prosecutor's office said on Monday.

The scandal burst out in the open when members of parliament for the party had alerted the prosecutor's office after they found out about an employment contract that paid Engel a salary for recruiting members for the CSV Frëndeskrees non-profit group, which they had been unaware of.

"At this point, we can tell you that at the end of last week, the public prosecutor's office in Luxembourg issued several summons in the context of the "CSV Frëndeskrees" case," said Henri Eippers, spokesman for the prosecution.

The news was first reported by broadcaster RTL, who said six party members had been charged, including current vice president Elisabeth Margue, former vice president Stéphanie Weydert and former party secretary general Félix Eischen, who were also aware of the contract.

Eippers did not want to confirm these names, saying "These summons have not yet reached all the parties concerned, so we do not wish to go into further detail", he said. He said court hearings were planned between 19 and 21 October.

The news comes at a difficult time for the party as new party president Claude Wiseler together with Margue is trying to reposition the party after Engel's departure.

After the Frëndeskreess scandal broke out, a second series of allegations emerged around the reimbursement of social security contributions, which prompted another investigation by the prosecutor, which is still ongoing.

Increasing secularisation and liberalisation of Luxembourg voters has chipped away at the support for the party, whose views combine a welfare state with socially conservative positions. Luxembourg liberalised abortion rights and abolished the death penalty under the first non-CSV government in the late 1970s. Under the second non-CSV government under Prime Minister Xavier Bettel the country legalised gay marriage and adoption rights.

Wiseler, a former French teacher and government advisor, led the party into the elections in 2018, when Bettel stayed in power, and the CSV managed to remain the largest party despite losing further seats.

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