The corona test manufacturer Qiagen, which has come under fire for tax practices, wants further funding from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. In 2019, Qiagen gilded his boss’s departure with more than 40 million euros.

By Petra Blum and Massimo Bognanni, WDR

The next application has already been submitted. The Dutch biotech company Qiagen would like to receive a further 19 million euros in tax money from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. So far, things have looked good for the corona test manufacturer, which employs around 1200 people at its German location in Hilden. After all, the NRW ministers for health and economy recently praised Qiagen as a "pioneer" during an on-site visit. At that time, the ministers had already promised 18.3 million euros in subsidies. The company not only produces important laboratory materials for corona tests, but is also researching the urgently needed Covid rapid tests.

Lush executive salaries

So nothing would stand in the way of a further funding package. If it weren’t for that questionable tax practices that WDR and "Suddeutsche Zeitung" recently published. Accordingly, the company could have reduced its tax burden in Germany by millions with the help of credit carousels and its subsidiaries in Malta and Luxembourg. The Greens in the state parliament are demanding clarification in the budget committee. When asked, Qiagen emphasized that it was conducting its business with the "highest integrity" and that it was strictly adhering to the law.

But there could be a need for further discussion. Because last year, Qiagen awarded its long-term chairman Peer Schatz more than 41 million euros. Not only that: even in previous years, the company reported annual expenses for its top manager of 9 million euros and more. For the medium-sized Qiagen, with a little more than 5000 employees and around 1.3 billion euros in sales, these are impressive sums.

When asked, Qiagen emphasized that the top manager’s remuneration was in line with the market, remuneration and severance pay would also consist of various salary components across all companies and that certain components would relate to periods of several years of up to ten years. Peer Schatz did not want to comment on the matter.

The responsible Ministry of North Rhine-Westphalia said on request that one could not assess the appropriateness of salaries. A decision on the second funding application has already been made, but the company has not yet been informed. The authority keeps to itself whether more millions flow.