Minor German party faces punishing fine

( dpa ) - A minor German political party, the Greys, confirmed Saturday it faces a fine of 8.5 million euros (12.5 million dollars), far exceeding its current resources.

The party, which advocates better treatment for old-age pensioners, has never won seats in Germany's federal parliament but has received federal grants to match votes and donations it has received.

A spokesman for the federal parliament said the clerk of the house had imposed the penalty after finding Greys officials had forged records of non-existent donations to qualify for a matching 38-cent-per-euro federal grant.

German political parties are mainly funded by public money and mostly have only modest fund-raising programmes of their own.

Manfred Albrecht, deputy leader of The Greys, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa in Dusseldorf, "it's obvious the party cannot pay that kind of money." The party would probably appeal, and would also seek a reduction.

A separate police inquiry is under way to establish if a former national executive member can also be prosecuted for fraud.

"The charges only apply to a few officials and not to the party as a whole," said Albrecht.

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