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HomeAus aller WeltBackhander for Hubert Seipel: ARD-reporter received 600,000 Euros from Russians - now...

Backhander for Hubert Seipel: ARD-reporter received 600,000 Euros from Russians – now the publisher and broadcaster respond

Hubert Seipel allegedly received hundreds of thousands of Euros from Russia without disclosing it to the NDR, his employer. This is revealed by confidential documents from Cyprus, which were evaluated by ZDF and DER SPIEGEL as part of the international research project “Cyprus Confidential.”

According to the documents, Seipel signed a “sponsorship contract” for a book project, originally called “Deed of Sponsorship,” which was generously rewarded with 600,000 Euros. “The author is writing a book about the political environment in the Russian Federation, which is scheduled to be published in 2019,” the contract from March 2018 states.

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“The sponsor wants to support the development of the project and make this political and historical development accessible to a wider audience through the author’s support.” Additionally, Seipel was supposed to receive “logistical and organizational support” during his research in Russia.

ARD-reporter Seipel received hundreds of thousands of Euros from Russia

Seipel’s “sponsor,” his contracting party, according to the contract, is a shell company called De Vere Worldwide Corporation, based in the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. De Vere apparently belongs to the corporate network of the Russian oligarch and long-time TUI major shareholder Alexei Mordashov, who was sanctioned by the European Union in February 2022 for his close ties to Vladimir Putin. A handwritten note on the contract with Seipel also suggests that there was a similar agreement for a Putin biography back in 2013. Seipel is thus the first renowned Western journalist known to have been paid from Putin’s circle.

Upon inquiry, Seipel, who has interviewed Putin multiple times for NDR television, admitted to “support” from Alexei Mordashov. However, the now-sanctioned oligarch did not have any influence on the content of his books, according to Seipel. In fact, the contract states that the author had no “obligations to the sponsor in relation to the project (neither regarding the content or composition of the book nor in any other way) or its completion.”

In 2015, the biography “Putin: Inside the Power” was published. Then in 2021, “Putin’s Power: Why Europe Needs Russia” followed. Both books were published by Hoffmann und Campe, a renowned Hamburg-based publishing house. The publisher and the NDR stated that they were unaware of the payments and were internally investigating the matter, including legal actions. The ARD referred to the NDR’s statement and declined further comment, as did the Russian parties up to Vladimir Putin.

“Cyprus Confidential” is an investigation initiated by ZDF, SPIEGEL, and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) uncovering questionable transactions of the EU country Cyprus. More than 270 journalists from 69 media houses worldwide participated in the research for “Cyprus Confidential,” including the “Washington Post,” the British “Guardian,” the Austrian “Standard,” and Tamedia from Switzerland.

Publisher halts book sales – NDR considers legal action

In response to media reports about alleged payments from Russia to the award-winning journalist Hubert Seipel, the publisher Hoffmann und Campe has decided to stop selling his books about Vladimir Putin. The Hamburg-based publisher stated on Tuesday, in response to a request from the German Press Agency: “The Hoffmann und Campe Verlag has decided not to offer Seipel’s books for sale due to the report published by ‘Der Spiegel’ and ZDF regarding Hubert Seipel.” The publisher had no knowledge of the reported facts. In recent years, two non-fiction books by the author and journalist about the Russian President Putin were published.

The Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) also stated on Tuesday evening that it is considering legal action. According to the information, the journalist, awarded with the Grimme Prize, produced a documentary about Putin for the ARD broadcaster in 2012 and conducted interviews with the Russian President and the whistleblower Edward Snowden, who fled the USA, in 2014.

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