Raid on Germany's largest real estate group: Due to suspicion of corruption, the public prosecutor's office in Bochum and the State Criminal Police Office of North Rhine-Westphalia searched the offices of the Bochum-based company Vonovia. A company spokeswoman confirmed this today.
According to the public prosecutor, several employees of the group and other parties involved are being investigated on suspicion of corruption and bribery, breach of trust and fraud.
In addition to the Bochum housing giant, a competitor based in southern Germany was also damaged. But tenants could also have been harmed, the NRW Tenants' Association fears. The "Westdeutscher Rundfunk" and the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" had previously reported on it.
Vonovia is willing to cooperate
"Today, the investigative authorities looked at our documents because Vonovia apparently suspected problematic processes in the awarding of contracts to subcontractors," says a Vonovia spokeswoman.
As the injured party, the group cooperates fully with the authorities and grants them access to the necessary documents. "We are very interested in a quick and comprehensive clarification of the allegations," emphasizes the spokeswoman. According to initial information, only financial damage was caused, the company emphasizes. People were not harmed, and there was no damage to buildings either.
Those are the accusations
According to the previous investigations by the public prosecutor's office, employees had given preference to certain companies working for the housing company when awarding the contract and received money or benefits in return in return.
Lists of services are said to have been manipulated in order to enable the commissioned companies to bill for services that have not actually been rendered. The accused are said to have divided the money obtained by fraud among themselves. The investigators did not provide any information on the extent of the damage.
Tenants could also be affected
The German Tenants' Association NRW warns that tenants could also have been damaged by the events. Because a large part of the craftsman services provided by Vonovia are paid directly or indirectly by the people who live in the company's apartments. According to the legal situation, many costs in connection with modernizations as well as craftsman services for operating costs could be passed on to the tenants.
"If the allegations are substantiated, the case must be fully processed so that the tenants do not suffer the damage afterwards," demands association leader Hans-Jochem Witzke.
The German Tenants' Association of North Rhine-Westphalia and many of its affiliated tenants' associations had repeatedly criticized Vonovia's processes in the area of operating costs and modernization in the past. There was often a dispute because of the high costs that tenants could not understand.
After a suspect moved to a southern German housing company, the parties involved are said to have made anti-competitive agreements in tenders there in order to achieve the award of the contract to a specific company. There, too, excessive billings are said to have subsequently occurred.
In the course of the investigations in North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg, Hamburg and Saxony, more than 40 private and business premises were searched and four arrest warrants were executed, the public prosecutor reports.