Personnel castling in the Treasury | A man cleans up

Christian Lindner fills key positions in the Ministry of Finance. What’s behind it?

It begins with a paper in January in polished bureaucratic German. FDP Finance Minister Christian Lindner has announced a major restructuring, the paper is available on t-online. It says that Lindner wants to “focus the Ministry of Finance more on our political projects” and want to “give the organization a long-term strategic perspective”.

Right at the beginning of the year, Lindner is reorganizing important departments in the Ministry of Finance. And that’s not all: He also replaces a state secretary. His goal: full support for a more liberal financial policy. The Minister of Finance wants to make sure that decisions are made in his interest.

Central Manager of Administration replaced

First there is the change of department head with the accompanying letter. Three of them will be replaced, and another will have to go because his department, which is responsible for IT, will be integrated into another.

Of particular interest is the new composition of the central department in the Ministry of Finance. This is where the ministry is controlled and all essential processes are orchestrated. Whoever sits there has influence. This is another reason why the person must have a good connection to the minister. Oliver Lambrecht, previously a sub-department head in the Ministry of Economics for many years, will take over the post.

Less surprising is the second appointment at the head of Department III, which is responsible for combating money laundering. Christof Schulte was previously active there – under him it became public that around 100,000 suspicious reports of money laundering had not been processed. Apparently too much transparency for Lindner, he exchanges Schulte for Armin Rolfink. He previously worked at the General Customs Directorate.

Lindner’s confidant has to go

And then there is a change in the tax department. For Lindner as a liberal financial politician, this department is likely to be particularly important. Nils Weith, a department head who previously worked in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, is coming there.

The measures are adjustment screws in the apparatus of the ministry. Lindner wants to ensure that important positions are filled with loyal employees. But the conversion of the house goes even further, in this case it affects Carsten Pillath.

Pillath, 66 years old, was brought out of retirement by Lindner. And this is how his farewell reads. Lindner now announces in his “Ministermail”: “State Secretary Dr. Carsten Pillath will return to regular retirement on April 1, 2023, from which I had brought him back when I took office in December 2021.”

Pillath is regarded as the right-hand man for Lindner’s appearances on the international stage. During the G7 presidency, in negotiations at EU level and in international organizations, he was “always able to rely on his network and excellent judgment”. He is “extremely grateful” to Pillath for this – and he has his “complete trust” for the remaining period of service.

Lindner was not dissatisfied with Pillath, even among financial politicians in Berlin there is still a lack of clarity as to why the state secretary has to go. He is now succeeded by a diplomat who already has experience in NATO: Heiko Thoms, previously ambassador to Brazil. Thoms is considered to be well connected. According to one reading among MPs, the signal should also simply be sent: Lindner no longer needs help, he gets along well on the international stage – and with his decision demonstrates the will to make uncomfortable personnel decisions.

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