The former SPD chairman Sigmar Gabriel is accused of having saved the controversial meat entrepreneur Clemens Tönnies from being fined by the Federal Cartel Office in his time as Federal Economics Minister. Gabriel has rejected these allegations. He described the suspicion on Friday at Bild Live as "nonsense". Gabriel had had nothing to do with the topic. "Why should I comment on allegations that have been pulled by the hair."

The picture had quoted a letter from Robert Tönnies, the nephew of Clemens Tönnies, in which he made corresponding allegations. In the letter, Tönnies asks whether the fee for Gabriel can be understood as "an additional reward for the advantages of the company in the time of government". He fears "considerable" damage if there is a public discussion about whether Gabriel helped "to put an end to the cartel fine" that the Bundeskartellamt initiated in 2013 against the meat entrepreneur.

Gabriel wouldn't know the letter, he said on Bild Live . However, he knew that "Clemens Tönnies' nephew is hostile to Clemens", which Gabriel did not want to comment on. "Simply reading the newspapers while I was Minister for Economic Affairs will show you that I was not particularly friendly with the meat industry and Clemens Tönnies," said Gabriel.

The President of the Bundeskartellamt, Andreas Mundt, told Bild that the Bundeskartellamt suspended the fine proceedings against two companies belonging to the Zur Mühlen Group, which belongs to the Tönnies Group, in 2016. The administrative fine imposed on the company Böklunder Plumrose and the meat goods factory in Bremen, at that time also in the possession of Tönnies, for a total of 128 million euros had "become irrelevant as a result of internal restructuring."

Gabriel had recently been criticized because he had worked for Tönnies from March to at least the end of May as a consultant. According to information from ARD magazine Panorama , he received a flat fee of 10,000 euros per month and an additional four-figure sum for each day of travel. Gabriel had defended his advisory work for the meat company. "I can't see anything problematic in the relationship with a large employer," he told Spiegel