A key ally of Angela Merkel is alleged to have received thousands of euros as part of a large-scale Azerbaijani money-laundering and influence-pedalling operation.
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) deputy Karin Strenz was paid between €7,000 and €15,000 over a two year period, according to revelations in an investigation between news organisations and an anti-corruption NGO.
The allegation comes a week before the German federal election. On September 19, Strenz and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, were campaigning together in the Baltic port city of Wismar.
German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of the partners investigating the scandal, says that Strenz received the funds from a firm set up by former Christian Social Union (CSU) politician Eduard Lintner.
Lintner has been lobbying for Azerbaijan, an authoritarian regime whose leaders have been accused of systematic human rights abuses, since 2009.
Lintner is one of several European politicians who have received payments from a secret, Azeri-sponsored $2.9 billion scheme designed to “silence criticism of the country’s dismal human rights record”, according to The Guardian.
The CDU deputy is also the chair of the German-South Caucasus parliamentary group in the Bundestag and a supporter of Azerbaijan.
Strenz has refused to comment on the allegations.