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Headquarters of the German Parkinson's Association: Millions apparently disappeared

Photo: Oliver Berg/dpa

An amount of millions has apparently disappeared from the German Parkinson's Association (dPV) - in this context, the Düsseldorf public prosecutor's office is investigating five suspects, as it announced at the request of the dpa news agency.

The suspects are therefore accused of either infidelity or aiding and abetting infidelity.

There had already been a search operation in this context.

The German Parkinson's Association made the allegations public a few months ago and filed a criminal complaint: There is a suspicion that a seven-figure sum had been embezzled.

The self-help association, founded in 1981, has set itself the goal of improving the living conditions of Parkinson's patients and their relatives and supporting medical research into the disease.

The non-profit organization recently had around 14,000 members and 300 regional groups.

Before the allegations were published, the association had commissioned law firms to investigate the suspicion that former employees of the association had lined their own pockets.

The law firms saw this confirmed: funds from the association had been diverted systematically and secretly.

Suspicion as early as 2010

There have already been allegations and tips from within our own ranks in the past.

In 2010, the public prosecutor's office refused to open an investigation due to a lack of sufficient suspicion.

It's different this time.

A confidential tip about a shadow account belonging to the patient association initially triggered the internal investigation, as the association reported.

According to the association, the shadow account was set up in 2007.

Several inheritances in favor of the association were paid into this account.

Apparently cash withdrawals totaled 1.5 million euros

A large part of this money is said not to have been used for the association's charitable purposes.

The lawyers' investigations suggested that more than 1.5 million euros in cash were withdrawn from ATMs over the years and disappeared.

The office of the federal association of the dPV is located in Neuss near Düsseldorf.

A law firm commissioned with the internal investigation also attested to a “system of nepotism.”

Relatives were benefited from the association's money through fictitious employment relationships.

The lawyers said they also found evidence of the destruction of evidence and documents.

The public prosecutor did not want to say whether and how the accused commented on the allegations.

This would jeopardize the investigation, it was said.