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German arms dealer extends scope of favor charges

OTTAWA (REUTERS [1]) — An arms deal­er want­ed on fraud charges in Ger­many Thurs­day sought to draw the gov­ern­ment into a polit­i­cal storm over cash pay­ments to a for­mer prime min­is­ter, say­ing a request to Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harp­er to help him avoid extra­di­tion was “well received.”

Ger­man-Cana­di­an busi­ness­man Karl­heinz Schreiber told a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee that for­mer Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­v­a­tive Prime Min­is­ter Bri­an Mul­roney had raised his case with Harp­er last year “and the mes­sage was very well received.”

Both Harp­er and Mul­roney have denied even dis­cussing Schreiber’s case. But a series of alle­ga­tions by Schreiber have proved a thorn in their sides. Schreiber made some of the alle­ga­tions dur­ing a pro­longed legal fight to avoid extra­di­tion.

“It was a shock for me when Prime Min­is­ter Harp­er said pub­licly on tele­vi­sion Mr. Mul­roney nev­er spoke with him about me or my let­ter,” said Schreiber, who was deliv­ered from jail in hand­cuffs to tes­ti­fy to the com­mit­tee.

It was per­haps the most antic­i­pat­ed com­mit­tee appear­ance on Par­lia­ment Hill in years, because of what Schreiber might say about Mul­roney or oth­er politi­cians.

Schreiber, whose dona­tions also helped top­ple for­mer Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Hel­mut Kohl, is await­ing extra­di­tion to Ger­many to faces charges of fraud, bribery, tax eva­sion, cor­rupt­ly accept­ing secret com­mis­sions and forg­ing doc­u­ments.

Schreiber paid Mul­roney C$300,000 (now worth $300,000) in cash in three meet­ings after Mul­roney stepped down as prime min­is­ter in 1993, and said Mul­roney had promised to help pro­mote a project to build Ger­man light-armored vehi­cles in Cana­da.

Schreiber said Thurs­day that he had been ready to pay C$500,000, but Mul­roney had not per­formed.

Mul­roney and Harp­er were at that time in dif­fer­ent right-wing polit­i­cal par­ties, but the two have since become friends, with Mul­roney act­ing as an infor­mal men­tor to Harp­er.

Schreiber had ini­tial­ly said he would not tes­ti­fy to the com­mit­tee, but he lat­er answered selec­tive ques­tions.

He said he had sealed his busi­ness deal with Mul­roney two days before Mul­roney ceased being prime min­is­ter. Mul­roney denies that and denies any wrong­do­ing.