An embarrassing suspicion is making the rounds in the Berlin police force. The reason: Due to the insolvency proceedings of a private security company, police officers have to guard properties owned by the Berlin police again and are withdrawn from the state service for this. The authorities now ask themselves: Were the police monitored by a criminal’s company? Fire brigade and judiciary buildings are also affected.
On April 8, the district court in Kiel ordered insolvency proceedings for the security company. Since then, employees of the company and subcontractors have been increasingly withdrawn, and the Berlin police have drawn up emergency plans.
Four days before the insolvency proceedings were ordered, 285 customs officers from the financial control agency for undeclared work searched a total of 15 properties on behalf of the Hamburg public prosecutor’s office, mainly in Hamburg, but also in Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony – and in Berlin. In the capital, an apartment and the business premises of a subcontractor were searched.
In the sights of the investigators: the Hamburg-based boss of the company that guarded the authorities on behalf of the state of Berlin, and other accomplices. The 36-year-old company boss, who is known to the Tagesspiegel by name, is suspected of having withheld and embezzled wages since October 2017.
At least 100 known employees who were used as security forces are affected, for whom he is also said to have paid social security contributions. Customs and the public prosecutor assume that there are other workers who have not yet been identified. In addition, the company is suspected of having concealed wage payments at times with posted cover bills.
860,000 euros and luxury cars confiscated
The investigators secure assets by arrest order in the amount of five million euros. They confiscated 60,000 euros in cash, 800,000 euros in accounts and cars worth 340,000 euros, including three luxury cars, according to customs. A photo shows a Bentley being picked up by investigators. secures time records, notes, invoices and parts of payroll and financial accounting, computers, tablets and cell phones.
The company was also active in Berlin on behalf of the state-owned Berlin real estate service provider BIM.
Now Berlin police officers have to guard their own buildings. Two of the five known directorates are affected, as well as two properties for training and further education, including the police academy on Radelandstraße in Spandau. There, about one hundred officers were seen at the entrance barrier as security guards. The police could not say how many security guards were withdrawn and for how long.
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“We don’t train colleagues for two or three years,” said Benjamin Jendro, spokesman for the police union (GdP). “It’s not that our riot police don’t have other things to do.” The GdP demands that the state itself must protect state institutions – for example through the central object protection (ZOS) of the police. This is the only way to ensure quality – and “we really know who is in front of the police property and to what extent the order is being followed up”.
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Tom Schreiber, deputy chief and interior expert of the SPD parliamentary group in the House of Representatives, explained: “The state must secure security-relevant properties itself. That’s what the ZOS is for.” This had to be strategically expanded in Berlin so that the police would not have to monitor the objects. “It costs money, but that’s the way it is,” said Schreiber.
Said ZOS is not yet responsible for guarding police buildings, as a spokeswoman explains. In most cases, other companies take over the security guards on an interim basis – “and in some police departments their services,” said a BIM spokeswoman. At the same time, a new assignment of the order was written.