Information from Von der Leyen's cell phone could be central to investigating the hiring scandal at the German Ministry of Defense. Mobile phone data has all been deleted.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is being investigated for hiring consulting firms while she was Germany's defense minister. It is suspected that the contracts in question turned out to be lucrative for the Ministry of Defense and were awarded to outside consultants without proper supervision.
According to POLITICALIt is also believed that informal personal relationships between ministries and companies may have facilitated the conclusion of these contracts.
Members of the parliamentary committee investigating the case believed that von der Leyen's cell phone could contain information crucial to unraveling the controversy. However, it was learned this Friday that the mobile phone data has been deleted.
Apparently, the parliamentary commission had been requesting the examination of the mobile phone since February. However, all mobile phone data was erased in August, at about the same time as Germany left the German Ministry of Defense and took office at the European Commission.
“We couldn't find official documents or other documents revealing why the ministry hired outside consultants… so the assumption is that a lot has happened through messages,” said commission member Alexander Müller.
"Since February, we have insisted that her mobile phone be examined as part of the investigation, and for months we have been informed (by the Ministry) that they are still looking for it and cannot find it."
In the past, Ursula von der Leyen has assumed the “mistakes” made in hiring outside consultants, but has never questioned the transparency of contracts. The justification given was that it was a mixture of negligence, 'knee-high' decisions and individual errors.
With regard to the deletion of mobile phone data, the Ministry of Defense claims that everything was done “in accordance with internal regulations”, without, however, justifying why it did not comply with the request to examine the mobile phone earlier.
Tobias Lindner, a member of the German parliament, says the deletion of mobile phone data was a real scandal. “We have to assume that the authorities destroyed evidence. This behavior could have criminal implications, ”he shot. In addition, it called on the Ministry of Defense to stop rendering the work of the parliamentary committee responsible for investigating the case unusable.