Bonn The legal dispute around the WCCB construction scandal is seemingly reaching its final round: On Friday, two of the five city council employees who were sued by the city for damages appeared before the labour court Bonn. Both conciliation hearings ended without agreement.
The City of Bonn claims 500,000 Euro from Friedhelm Naujoks, the former head of the city’s building management department (SGB). The council accuses him of mistakes during the project controlling of the World Conference Center Bonn (WCCB). He certified the dubious investor Man-Ki Kim a commitment of more than ten million Euro in equity and personal contribution despite the audit office (RPA) only mentioning 2.5 million Euro. On this basis the Sparkasse Cologne-Bonn paid the building loans. Also, Naujoks is accused of having cleared bills associated with little or no services. Also the use of public funds was not checked regularly.
On Friday, facing the 4th chamber of the labour court, Naujoks remained silent. The man from the Ruhrvalley, whose employment contract the city tried to terminate several times before agreeing to a settlement, let his lawyer deny all the accusations. According to his lawyer Thorsten Leisbrock, Naujok fulfilled all his duties. According to the controlling contract with the Sparkasse Naujoks and his employees only had to do validity controls and single case checks. Leisbrock doubted that the city had suffered any kind of damage. „The city owns the WCCB and received support funding of about 100 million Euro“, said Leisbrock. The lawyer of the municipality countered that the statement was rather „bold“.
In a second case on Friday, a former city council department director also denied any failure in the WCCB controlling. The city council had sued the 69-year-old pensioner for 250,000 Euro. He insisted he had only checked the numbers in the certificates for validity which were handed to him by the project group around Arno Hübner. „Considerable documents“ were not seen by him, and he never saw from which account which services were paid. He said he was disappointed by his former employer. He claims he was not heard by the city in regard to the accusations prior to the law suit.
„I can understand that this burdens you“, said the presiding judge, Wilfried Löhr-Steinhaus and suggested a settlement. Both sides are now considering a sum of 25,000 Euro which the judge mentioned without measurement of the trial costs.
For both cases the court set the next chamber meeting date for autumn. Löhr-Steinhaus suggested the former department director should get a lawyer - until now the pensioner had forgone that option.
WCCB criminal proceedings against him were discontinued after a payment of 5,000 Euro; Naujoks had to pay 15,000 Euro.
Another labour court case involves a currently employed SGB staff member. The legal actions against the former Lady Mayoress Bärbel Dieckmann and former city director Hübner are filed with the administrative court in Cologne, which is responsible for civil servants. Trial dates will probably only be announced for 2019. The city council demanded one million Euro each from both Hübner and Dieckmann.
The Komba union criticises the law suits. „To pillory civilian colleagues who fulfilled political contracts is not expedient“, declared the union chairman Christoph Busch, who is also chairman to the city’s staff council.
(Original text: Andreas Baumann / Translation: Mareike Graepel)