BMW Owner Gives $930,000 to Merkel Party Before Cap Block

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s controlling family last week donated 690,000 euros ($930,000) to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, just days before Germany successfully blocked stricter European Union regulations on carbon dioxide emissions.

Johanna Quandt, along with her children Stefan Quandt and Susanne Klatten, each gave 230,000 euros on Oct. 9 to Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, according to a filing today on the German parliament’s website.

The three, who jointly own 46.7 percent of the Munich-based manufacturer, made the largest single donations to a political party this year in Germany, according to parliament’s website. By law, donations exceeding 50,000 euros must be made public.

Merkel’s government yesterday fended off a EU draft to cap carbon discharges in the bloc at 95 grams per kilometer in 2020 -- a proposal opposed by German automakers. EU environment ministers agreed to seek a revision of the draft law to allow for more flexibility before tighter emissions have to be met.

“The next federal government has to look into the topic of personal and financial entanglements from politics and lobbying,” said Christina Deckwirth of LobbyControl, which promotes transparency in government. “We need clear barriers for getting influence in Germany.”

Merkel is currently holding talks with the opposition Social Democrats and the Greens on forming a coalition government with one of them after her bloc secured the biggest election victory since German reunification in the Sept. 22 federal vote.

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“The donations are in no way bound to industrial policies,” said Joerg Appelhans, a family spokesman. “They are not involved in political talks about emission regulations or the like. The donations were made after the election so that they are not becoming part of the election campaign.”

Klatten, Germany’s richest woman, is ranked 54th in the Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index with a net worth of $15.8 billion. Klatten and her brother Stefan are both members of BMW’s supervisory board.

“The donations are in no way connected with any single political decision,” the CDU said in an e-mailed statement. “The Quandt family has supported the CDU for many years with private donations, no matter if the CDU was in the government or opposition.”

BMW, the world’s biggest maker of luxury vehicles, directly gave 143,818 euros in March to the CDU’s Bavarian sister party and in the same month donated 107,376 euros to the SPD. The Free Democrats, which failed to win enough votes last month to remain in the German parliament, received 69,081 euros from BMW in February.

Daimler AG, the world’s third-largest luxury carmaker, gave 100,000 euros respectively to the CDU and SPD in April.

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