Missing billionaire Haub: “Traces lead to Russia”

It is an unprecedented case: six years ago, former Tengelmann boss Karl-Erivan Haub disappeared during a ski tour on the Matterhorn. In 2021 he was declared dead by the Cologne district court. Since then, however, doubts about the businessman’s death have repeatedly arisen in media reports. An RTL team filed a criminal complaint against Christian Haub, Karl-Erivan’s brother, in May 2023. The accusation: He submitted a false affidavit in which he said he had no evidence that his brother was still alive. Based on an initial suspicion, the Cologne public prosecutor’s office has now initiated an investigation. RTL investigative journalist Liv von Boetticher explains in an interview how the ad came about and what can be expected now.

It is an unusual step as a journalist to report someone you are reporting on. Why did the team decide to do this in the case of Christian Haub?

Liv von Boetticher: We have been intensively researching the mysterious disappearance of Karl-Erivan Haub for three years. There is strong evidence that he could have caused his disappearance intentionally and that at least parts of his family were aware of it and, against their better judgment, kept this secret from the Cologne District Court and the public. We journalistically processed our research results over a period of three years and hoped that the public prosecutor would initiate an official investigation based on what we considered to be overwhelming evidence. We had also informed the Cologne District Court in 2021 of our strong doubts about Mr. Haub’s death. The step of filing a criminal complaint against Christian Haub in May 2023 is certainly unusual, but we saw it as the last resort to officially initiate an investigation and clarify the background to the mysterious disappearance of Karl-Erivan Haub.

What exactly is the evidence that the team has?

In the fall of 2022, together with a lawyer, I obtained insights into photos through sources that presumably show Karl-Erivan Haub in Moscow in February 2021. As far as I know, these photos were obtained on behalf of Christian Haub and two internal investigators working for him by an Israeli-American company that searched the biometric surveillance system in Moscow for images of Karl-Erivan Haub. As far as I know, these photos were available to Christian Haub – at the time when he stated under oath to the Cologne District Court in May 2021 that he had “no reliable evidence” that his brother was still alive. He also stated that he had “for the first time” commissioned a security service “in November 2020” to get to the bottom of the rumors about his brother’s survival. However, we have highly confidential internal documents that indicate the investigation began immediately after the disappearance in 2018.

What is Christian Haub accused of in the ad?

From our point of view, it has been proven that Christian Haub submitted a false affidavit in May 2021 in which he said that he “had no evidence that his brother was still alive”. This statement contributed, among other things, to Karl-Erivan Haub being officially declared dead.

How long did it take until the Cologne public prosecutor’s office decided to investigate?

We filed the criminal complaint with the Cologne public prosecutor’s office in May 2023. However, the public prosecutor’s office initially refused to open an investigation against Christian Haub. We lodged a complaint with the Cologne Public Prosecutor’s Office against the public prosecutor’s decision refusing to open an investigation, requesting that the public prosecutor’s office be instructed to initiate investigations against Christian Haub. In order to resolve our complaint, the public prosecutor’s office has legally reassessed the situation and has now officially initiated an investigation – and quite obviously, according to media reports, a search has already taken place at the affected company.

The decisive factor for the criminal complaint is evidence that Karl-Erivan Haub could still be alive. What indications are these?

After his disappearance, internal investigators were called in, namely Tengelmann’s head of security and a crisis manager. And just a week after the disappearance, these two men stated that they only gave a five percent chance of a mountain accident as an explanation.

What were the reasons for this assessment?

Shortly after the disappearance, traces emerged that led to Russia. Among other things, there was an alleged lover of Karl-Erivan Haub, with whom he had frequent telephone contact before his disappearance and who is in contact with the Russian domestic secret service FSB. On this basis, investigations were carried out by internal investigators and specially commissioned agencies in Russia. There is a report that shows that the investigators suspected Haub was in Russia and also stated that they were able to obtain a photo of him for 100,000 euros. An international agency was tasked with tapping into Moscow’s biometric surveillance system and using that data to search for Karl-Erivan Haub.

The RTL team confronted the family and Christian Haub with the evidence. What was the reaction?

Christian Haub never specifically answered our questions. He also did not respond to explicit questions about the photos. There was only a general statement.

So the evidence is strong, but what could be the reason why Karl-Erivan Haub left for Russia?

I believe that the motive lies in his business connections to Russia. Karl-Erivan Haub has proven to have done business with questionable players in the Russian economy. We are talking about the owners of a bank that played a key role in the so-called Russian Laundromat, the major money laundering scandal of the 2010s. Our suspicion is that dealings with Russia or with Russian business partners may have put Karl-Erivan in trouble in the Western world. The FBI and CIA were on site in Zermatt after Karl-Erivan Haub’s disappearance and apparently obtained their own information there.

But it would also be conceivable that Karl-Erivan Haub is dead, but that it was not an accident.

That is possible.

What could happen now that the public prosecutor’s office has started an investigation?

Of course this will take time. I assume that the public prosecutor’s office will take advantage of the opportunity and question witnesses in detail. And then we’ll see.

Nils Kreimeier spoke to Liv von Boetticher

The interview first appeared on capital.de

Like ntv, “Capital” belongs to the same media group as RTL under the umbrella of RTL Deutschland.

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