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German far-right politician under fire over Swiss donations

BERLIN (AP) — A prominent German far-right politician has come under criticism for receiving 130,000 euros ($146,500) in campaign donations from abroad in an apparent breach of party funding laws.

Alice Weidel, the co-leader of Alternative for Germany, insisted Monday she had no information about the donor or his motives, but had relied on assurances from a party treasurer that the donations were legal.

“When doubts later arose about the legality of the donations, Ms. Weidel recommended that the regional chapter (of her party) return the donation, which eventually happened,” her party said in a statement.

German public broadcasters NDR and WDR, and daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, reported Sunday that Weidel’s local party branch began receiving weekly payments of several thousand Swiss francs in August 2017 — shortly before the country’s national election.

The payments were marked as “campaign donation Alice Weidel.” Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger reported that the payments were listed as coming from a company named PWS Pharmawholesale International AG.

According to the German media reports, it took the party eight months to return the money.

German law only allows for party donations from outside the European Union if they’re made by German or EU citizens. Switzerland isn’t a member of the 28-nation bloc.

Alternative for Germany, which came third in last year’s election, recently distanced itself from a group that supported its election campaigns with large-scale advertising — potentially constituting illegal funding.

The German parliament has asked the party, which campaigns heavily against immigration, to provide a detailed explanation of its handling of the Swiss donations.

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