Tuesday, November 30th, 2021
Report reveals weaknesses
Court of Auditors rebukes DB’s double mandates
A report by the Federal Court of Auditors does not leave the Deutsche Bahn good hair. The authority complains about conflicts of interest among the numerous MPs who also sit on the Group’s supervisory boards. There is also criticism of the profit transfer.
Members of parliament in double function as the supervisory board of the railway and its daughters, non-transparent profit transfer of the group to the federal government or a questionable entry of the railway energy subsidiary into the private customer business: In its remarks on the rail and road infrastructure for the Ministry of Transport, the Federal Audit Office criticized old and new weaknesses at the federally owned Deutsche Bahn. The authority handed the report over to the ministry.
Main criticism: According to the Court of Auditors, numerous MPs and committee members of the Bundestag sit on the supervisory boards of the federally owned group and its subsidiaries. “These MPs have two hats on,” said Court of Auditors Kay Scheller in Bonn. “You are a representative of the donor and a representative of the recipient of the money.”
MEPs are mandated to serve the common good, but a supervisory board is primarily committed to the welfare of the company in question. “That is a conflict of interest, a collision of interests in a function,” said Scheller. “We have now examined this dual function very intensively and in a well-rounded manner, and it is clear that this should be turned off for the reasons mentioned.”
Criticism of profit transfer
In its remarks, the Federal Audit Office also criticizes the railways’ irregular profit transfer to the federal government. The contract stipulates that the profits of the railway go to the state as the owner. He in turn has to put the money into maintaining and expanding the rail infrastructure. In recent years, however, the dividend has repeatedly been below actual profits, criticized the Court of Auditors.
The authority calls on the federal government to reclaim profits that have not yet been transferred from the railway with interest. According to the Federal Audit Office, however, the Federal Ministry of Transport pointed out that in other years more dividends were paid out than profits were made.
Another point of criticism from the authority is the entry of the rail subsidiary DB Energie into the private electricity business. The company mainly takes care of energy procurement for the rail industry. In the new private electricity market, the economic success “did not begin to come about as expected,” emphasized Scheller. He does not accept the argument of the railways and the federal government that it is simply a matter of expanding the customer base. Rather, the new business is an entirely “new field of activity”.