German official faces probe over ex-secret agent's donations

BERLIN - Authorities have searched the offices of Germany's main conservative party as prosecutors investigate the deputy agriculture minister in a probe of suspected illegal party donations.

News agency dpa reported Wednesday that prosecutors in Koblenz are investigating Peter Bleser, a lawmaker with Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, on suspicion of breach of trust and party financing laws. Searches were conducted at CDU offices in Berlin and Mainz, the capital of Bleser's home state, and party officials said they were co-operating fully with investigators.

The investigation centres on donations allegedly made by Werner Mauss, a former secret agent who was convicted of tax evasion in October, under different names. Bleser, the treasurer of the CDU's local branch at the time of some of the donations, has denied any wrongdoing.

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