For vice president matthias grabmann, the question is: "the chamber of handicrafts is currently facing the greatest crisis of its existence", said the bamberger on friday at a press conference in the BTZ bamberg, to which the chamber had invited, after the resignation of its president the weekend before.
Misconduct at a tax consulting company with the company abbreviation GTO, a subsidiary of the chamber of crafts, had triggered this crisis. In addition, there is the internal dispute with the coburg guilds, which has still not been filed.
Grabmann presented a chronological list of the events surrounding the GTO, in order to make it clear once again that the remaining board members would remain in office until july 21, 2019. July 2019 had no knowledge of the fraud at GTO. In june 2019, an audit of the GTO by the bayreuth tax office brought the irregularities to light. At the board meeting on 21. July 2019 was then to be replaced by the now departed chief executive officer thomas koller "only in an aside" and "not as a separate agenda item" been informed.
Three members of the supervisory board
Much of this scandal, in which a leading employee of GTO is alleged to have embezzled funds and evaded taxes on a large scale, was already known beforehand. The focus was on the former chief executive officer horst eggers, the chief executive officer thomas koller, who was in office until august, and the president thomas zimmer, who resigned at the end of september, who formed the supervisory board of the GTO.
GTO now profitable
In the meantime, as was made clear at the press conference, there is no longer a supervisory board at the GTO. The company has been restructured, the chamber now holds only 50 percent of the shares, the rest a private tax consulting firm. "The company, which currently has 28 employees, now operates professionally", vice president grabmann said. It was earning money and was now profitable. However, whether it is part of a chamber’s remit to act as a tax advisor is a matter for the general meeting to decide at some point, said managing director bernd sauer.
790000 euro representation and vehicle costs"
According to managing director bernd sauer and chamber board members matthias grabmann, karl-peter wittig and michael klein, the reason why GTO could not be profitable before depended on the criminal activities at GTO. For example, collective transfers were made, but then printed out and changed again for the documents. A sum of payments to the GTO in the amount of 790,000 euros, which the former managing director horst eggers had arranged from 2002 on and which his successor thomas koller had continued until 2014, is in the balance. According to grabmann, everything was noted under the accounting term "representation and vehicle costs". The money is said to have been used, among other things, for company cars. "What else is behind this, we still have a big question mark", said grabmann. The chamber is also criticized for granting a loan of 730,000 euros to the GTO. "This was not included in the budget at any point in time", reported grabmann. The board of management and the annual general meeting were unaware of this.
"Supervisory board should have noticed irregularities"
In the end, grabmann and his colleagues assume that the supervisory board members eggers, koller and zimmer have not enriched themselves, but have violated their supervisory duties. "That is our subjective assessment," said, said grabmann. However, this was also the conclusion of a legal opinion by external auditors commissioned by the chamber last fall. "The legal opinion says that the supervisory board should have been aware of the irregularities at certain points", reported managing director sauer. According to the auditors, the supervisory board met once a year for one hour. The fact that chairman eggers received 30,000 euros for this, as became public in the course of the scandal, also upsets those now responsible at the chamber. "We have to apologize to the operators for what happened," said, said karl-peter wittig, employee representative on the board of management. "We are trying to get to the bottom of everything so that the owners can regain their trust."