German prosecutors announced today they are pursuing an investigation against former Chancellor Helmut Kohl for allegedly accepting illegal donations in a campaign fund scandal.
The prosecutor's office said it notified parliament of the investigation in order to have Kohl's immunity from prosecution lifted. If immunity is lifted, the preliminary probe would seek to determine whether Kohl should face criminal charges of misusing funds.
Parliament President Wolfgang Thierse must now consult with party leaders, who could block the probe. If party leaders take no action within 48 hours, the probe may proceed. A consensus to let the prosecutors investigate seemed to emerge swiftly, with the head of Kohl's party, the Christian Democrats, saying he would not stand in the way. Kohl's office said he accepted the announcement "with regret" and would cooperate.
Kohl has admitted receiving up to $1 million in cash contributions as leader of the Christian Democratic Union from 1993 to 1998. The donations were kept off the books and could lead to heavy fines for the party.