from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
FlowTex Technologie GmbH & Co. KG iL
legal form GmbH & Co. KG
founding 1994
resolution 2000
Seat Ettlingen , Germany
management Manfred Schmider, Klaus Kleiser, Angelika Neumann
Branch Construction company, mechanical engineering

The FlowTex Technologie GmbH & Co. KG in Baden Ettlingen was a company that fraudulently using horizontal drilling underground for laying lines concerned. In the time of the crime from 1994 to 1999 a loss of almost 4.2 billion was Deutschmark . According to a widespread assessment, FlowTex is the largest case of white-collar crime in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany to date .

During the investigation into the case, 55 house searches were carried out and 123 preliminary proceedings were initiated against 110 suspects, the four main perpetrators were sentenced to a total of 58 years in prison by several courts, and two FDP state ministers lost their office. The damage calculated by public prosecutors totaled 4.9 billion DM (corresponds to an equivalent of around 3.3 billion euros including inflation in 2019). This amount contains approx. 0.7 billion DM, which would have flowed into the FlowTex bank account three days after the arrest of the main culprit Manfred Schmider in connection with the issuing of a bond by the FlowTex group initiated by Commerzbank and Dresdner Bank .

The enterprise

In the period between 1994 and 1999, the business purpose comprised underground trenchless laying of lines and trading in the horizontal drilling machines required for this, unlike traditional laying work without opening the surface of the earth . The lines (electricity, gas, water, telecommunications, etc.) could be laid by controlled horizontal drilling; so in stages over long distances. The method was quick, saved costs and had little impact on the environment by avoiding road closures.

The technology arose from a research project started in 1978 by the Electric Power Research Institute . The machines were brought to market maturity and sold by FlowMole , a company founded in the USA in 1983 (renamed UTILX in 1991 ).

In 1996, a wholly owned subsidiary of Flowtex took over Baden-Airpark , which is now Karlsruhe / Baden-Baden Airport, for 38 million DM.

Amounted to

FlowTex sold 3,142 horizontal drilling machines that did not really exist. In contrast, there were 270 real drilling machines, which means that well over 90% of the system only existed on paper , at a unit price of around 1.5 million DM .


The founders were Manfred Schmider and Klaus Kleiser. Chief Financial Officer was Karl Schmitz, Thomas Reinhard was authorized signatory . The managing director of the supposed manufacturing company KSK was Angelika Neumann (a former secretary of Manfred Schmider), who issued invoices for 1200 non-existent drilling rigs. Manfred Schmider's brother Matthias Schmider was also involved in the FlowTex fraud as managing director of the supplier Male and head of the French FlowTex branch. According to calculations by the FlowTex insolvency administrator, Matthias Schmider is said to have “earned” over DM 85 million in this way.


FlowTex sold the bogus drilling systems to leasing companies and banks and leased the machines back again ( sale-lease-back transaction) so that the leasing companies could demonstrate the necessary market requirements for loan financing from the banks. The profit from the fraud was the credit granted to the leasing companies for the purchase of non-existent drilling machines. In order to conceal the fact that only a tenth of the drilling systems actually existed, the shareholders of FlowTex forged the serial numbers on the approval plates of the drilling rigs, among other things, before the annual audits by affixing new approval badges with new serial numbers to the same equipment.

The “business model” of this credit fraud resembles that of a pyramid scheme , because the payment of the leasing installments to the leasing companies always requires new “sales” of non-existent machines to them.

Role of tax authorities

An investigative committee of the state parliament of Baden-Württemberg examined a possible entanglement of tax auditors of the responsible tax office ; this has also been the subject of several legal proceedings. The accused were accused of having gained knowledge of the fraud through their tax audits and of having remained silent. A tax auditor had received benefits in kind from FlowTex. He was convicted of accepting advantages , but not of aiding and abetting fraud.


In the course of the Flowtex scandal, there were a large number of lawsuits. In 2008, the Mannheim public prosecutor reported that a total of 127 preliminary investigations had been initiated since 2000, which resulted in 27 people being convicted - nine of them to prison terms, 16 to suspended sentences and two to fines.

Criminal proceedings

In 2000, the managing director Manfred Schmider and other employees were found to have committed fraud , which had caused damage of around 2.9 billion marks. Those responsible were in 2002 by the Mannheim Regional Court to six to twelve years imprisonment sentenced; Manfred Schmider's sentence of twelve years in prison was reduced to 11 years and 6 months on appeal. On October 2, 2007, Manfred Schmider was released on parole after serving two-thirds of his sentence.

The court order to place the main accused Schmider in the forensic psychiatry caused a particular stir . On behalf of the Mannheim public prosecutor's office, a psychiatrist had attested Schmider that he might suffer from megalomania , which reduced his guilt and thus his criminal liability. He literally referred to this as the " Harry Potter phenomenon of hallucinatory wish fulfillment". The competent commercial criminal chamber then ordered a second psychiatric assessment because the first assessor exceeded his competencies and relied solely on Schmider's presentation. Since Schmider refused to be re-examined, the criminal chamber ordered his placement in a psychiatric hospital. Due to a decision by the Karlsruhe Higher Regional Court , Schmider escaped this, but was brought to the medical department of the Stuttgart-Stammheim prison for further observation . The constitutional complaint directed against this was successful: the Federal Constitutional Court confirmed a violation of general personal rights.

In December 2007, the former wife Manfred Schmiders was sentenced to a fine of 100,000 euros for money laundering.

A former Flowtex lawyer was sentenced in April 2008 to four years imprisonment for aiding and abetting fraud and tax evasion. He had advised the management of Flowtex on legal issues and helped to cover up the fraud.

On January 23, 2013, Manfred Schmider was sentenced to suspended sentence for double bankruptcy. While in custody, he organized the transfer of four Chagall paintings and a luxury SUV to Switzerland in 2005 and 2006, thereby removing them from Flowtex's bankruptcy estate. The long duration of the proceedings, in which the public prosecutor had already brought charges in summer 2007, was taken into account to mitigate the penalty.

In October 2015, legal proceedings began in Switzerland in which the defendants were accused of stealing the proceeds from the sale of a villa in St. Moritz, a 51-carat diamond and four Chagall paintings from Flowtex's bankruptcy estate. On January 28, 2016, the Frauenfeld district court sentenced the defendants as follows:

  • Manfred Schmider was sentenced to 14 months' imprisonment for money laundering, including seven months on probation,
  • his former wife for money laundering and forgery of documents to a prison sentence of three years, of which two years on probation,
  • her lawyer to two years' imprisonment.
  • Schmider's two adult children were acquitted.

An appeal hearing took place on September 25, 2018 by the Thurgau Higher Court. The second instance increased the prison sentence against Manfred Schmider to 18 months. The judgment is not yet final as it has been referred to the Federal Criminal Court .

Civil litigation

The Federal Court ruled in 2005 on the application of the liquidator of FlowTex to receive payment of the account balance of the company in the amount of 19.5 million DM in the Volksbank Ettlingen , raising the decisions of the courts in part. Volksbank had arbitrarily redirected a transfer from KSK to a FlowTex account at a third-party bank to a FlowTex account with itself, offset it with its own, higher claims against FlowTex and transferred the credit to its own account. The BGH ruled that the amended transfer could not be attributed to either the KSK or the Volksbank as a service and therefore a reclaim is not excluded by § 814 BGB. Rather, there is a direct enrichment claim ("direct condition") of the Volksbank against FlowTex, so that the refusal to pay is not illegal. As a result, the bookings had to be reversed and the status before the transfer had to be restored.

Official liability proceedings

The creditors failed with an official liability suit brought against the state of Baden-Württemberg for damages in the amount of 1.1 billion. The Karlsruhe Regional Court dismissed the lawsuit in the first instance, as there was no evidence that tax officials had assisted the FlowTex fraud or that there was no improper behavior. The appeal against this judgment was rejected by the Karlsruhe Higher Regional Court . After the Federal Court of Justice rejected the complaint for non-admission on May 27, 2009, the dismissal was final.

Political environment

In addition to the charge at FlowTex also came auditors (KPMG), authorities , prosecutor's office and FDP - and CDU - politicians of the country Baden-Wuerttemberg into the twilight, as the air operations for many years undetected. Manfred Schmider maintained friendly contacts with several people in charge and was highly regarded as a successful entrepreneur before the scandal was discovered. The Baden-Württemberg FDP honorary chairman Jürgen Morlok has been Schmider's right-hand man since 1994 as company spokesman. The former Baden-Württemberg Minister of Economic Affairs, Walter Döring , was sentenced to a suspended sentence for making a false statement in the Flowtex trial. On October 23, 2005, Döring accepted the penalty warrant for nine months' probation and a payment of 20,000 euros.

Committee of Inquiry

At the request of the SPD and the GREEN parliamentary group, the Baden-Wuerttemberg state parliament set up a committee of inquiry that lasted 3½ years (March 19, 2002 to October 18, 2005) and met 48 times. 114 witnesses were heard and 1,300 files and parts of files were consulted.

Whereabouts of the individual assets

Between 1994 and 1999 FlowTex received around 4.2 billion DM from leasing companies. Around DM 2.6 billion of this was paid back in the form of leasing installments. The fraudulently obtained surplus thus amounted to approx. 1.6 billion DM.

The real business expenses incurred during this period (salaries, rents, etc.) amounted to around 686 million DM and taxes of around 325 million DM. The remaining difference of around 616 million DM went to the then managing directors of FlowTex, Manfred Schmider, Klaus Kleiser, Angelika Neumann (Managing Director of KSK Guided Microtunneling Technologies), Matthias Schmider and to various investment companies in connection with investments in leasing companies amounting to 80 million DM.

The FlowTex businesses had been properly taxed, which is why the city of Ettlingen had to repay a considerable amount of trade tax to the insolvency administrator after the scandal was uncovered .


The FlowTex story inspired the musical Big Money , which premiered in 2011 at the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe . Thomas Zaufke set a text by Peter Lund to music .

TV movie

On behalf of SWR Fernsehen and ARD Degeto , the Polyphon Film- und Fernsehgesellschaft produced the television film Big Manni about the FlowTex scandal in the form of an entrepreneur satire . Niki Stein was the author and director . Hans-Jochen Wagner embodied the role of the entrepreneur Manfred Schmider . The world premiere was at the Festival des Deutschen Films 2018, first broadcast on May 1, 2019. Following the television film, ARD showed the documentary Big Manni - Big Money - The true story of a billion- dollar fraud, a review with contemporary witnesses. The television film and documentary were re-broadcast on January 4, 2020 on Südwestrundfunk .

See also

  • Balsam AG : Abusively exercised factoring contracts (credit payments for no direct performance value) achieved a similar effect as with FlowTex.
  • Schneider affair : Excessive specified areas and non-existent floors of new real estate buildings resulted in excessive loans of DM 5.5 billion being obtained from around 55 different banks, which was made possible by negligence in lending.
  • List of corporate failures and scandals


  • Meinrad Heck: The Flowtex scandal. How politics and the tax authorities profited from a gigantic economic fraud for years. S. Fischer Verlag, ISBN 3-596-17080-X
  • Josef-Otto Freudenreich (ed.): “We can do everything.” Felt, corruption and companionship in the model country . Tübingen: Klöpfer & Meyer Verlag , 2008; P. 79ff. ISBN 3-940086-12-6
  • Klaus Schmeh: The 55 Biggest Flops in Economic History Frankfurt / Vienna, Redline Economy, Ueberreuter, ISBN 3-8323-0864-4

Individual evidence

  1. The Flowtex case: Six facts about the largest German economic crime , sueddeutsche.de , May 11, 2010 Manager-Magazin [1] , SWR [2] , Handelsblatt [3] , Focus [4] , Tagesspiegel [5] , Rhine -Zeitung [6] Südkurier [7] , State Center for Political Education BW [8] , KA-news [9] , industrie.de [10]
  2. VH Peemöller, S. Hofmann: accounting scandals: offenses and countermeasures. Erich Schmidt Verlag, 2005, ISBN 3-503-09031-2 , pp. 98-101. limited preview in Google Book search
  3. Lori Lovely: FlowMole Technology Helps Shape Guided Boring , constructionequipmentguide.com from August 16, 2000, accessed on May 1, 2019 (English).
  4. http://www.manager-magazin.de/unternehmen/karriere/a-547955.html
  5. a b Judgment against Manfred Schmider final ; in: Manager Magazin of September 23, 2003.
  6. N-TV.de: After seven years of imprisonment: Ex-Boss FlowTex-free , accessed on 2 October 2007
  7. http://www.manager-magazin.de/unternehmen/karriere/a-509032.html
  8. Full text of the decision of the BVerfG of October 9, 2001, 2 BvR 1523/01
  9. http://www.manager-magazin.de/unternehmen/karriere/a-665139.html
  10. http://www.manager-magazin.de/unternehmen/karriere/a-547955.html
  11. http://www.swp.de/ulm/nachrichten/suedwestumschau/Mallorca-statt-Gefaengnis;art4319,1819329
  12. Money laundering: FlowTex founder has to go to prison again
  13. http://www.n-tv.de/wirtschaft/Jagd-auf-Big-Mannis-Millionen-article16073361.html
  14. https://www.tagblatt.ch/ostschweiz/thurgauer-obergericht-bestaetigt-schuldsprueche-im-flowtex- Betrugsfall- ld.1068054
  15. BGH, judgment of June 21, 2005 , Az.XI ZR 152/04, full text.
  16. jusnews index 2000 , Gerhard Köbler , Zentrissimum integrative European law, University of Innsbruck
  17. ^ LG Karlsruhe, judgment of July 26, 2005 , Az. 2 O 60/03 full text.
  18. OLG Karlsruhe, judgment of October 15, 2007 , Az. 12 U 208/05, full text.
  19. BGH, decision of May 27, 2009 , Az. III ZR 274/07, full text.
  20. ^ Prosecution wants a suspended sentence for ex-FDP vice-Döring from February 15, 2005; http://www.manager-magazin.de .
  21. Döring accepts a penal order for false statements . Report in the Tagesspiegel , December 24, 2005.
  22. Caption on sz.de , May 26, 2010.
  23. Establishment and mandate of the investigation committee “Conduct of the state government and state authorities in connection with the criminal activities of Manfred Schmider and Matthias Schmider, especially at the FlowTex group” , p. 5 (PDF file; 20 kB). Accessed May 1, 2019.
  24. Final report of the “FlowTex” investigative committee of the Baden-Württemberg state parliament , p. 34 (PDF file; 12.2 MB). Accessed May 1, 2019.
  25. Final report of the “FlowTex” investigative committee of the Baden-Württemberg state parliament , p. 37 (PDF file; 12.2 MB). Accessed May 1, 2019.
  26. Big Money at the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, accessed on April 10, 2012
  27. Much applause for Karlsruhe Flowtex musical , dpa report from March 20, 2011 at Focus.de
  28. theme evening. Big Manni , swr.de from April 26, 2019, accessed on May 1, 2019
  29. ^ Entrepreneur satire on ARD. Big Manni makes big money. Or not , spiegel.de from April 30, 2019, accessed on May 1, 2019
  30. Big Manni. Festival of German Films, accessed on May 2, 2019 .

Web links