During an ongoing trial against members of the Al-Z clan that began in Düsseldorf district court, German taxpayers are learning that they financed the extended Lebanese family with hundreds of thousands of euros in social benefits despite the family having millions in assets.
Currently, alleged clan boss Badia Al-Z., along with his wife, four sons, and his daughter-in-law are standing trial, with prosecutors revealing they have received €456,000 in social benefits under Hartz IV welfare program, according to the Bild newspaper.
The public prosecutor has made serious allegations against the clan, accusing them of money laundering, extortion, tax evasion, hostage-taking, dangerous bodily harm, exploitation, coercion, and organized welfare fraud.
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Between 2014 and 2021, Germany supported the family’s luxurious lifestyle with almost half a million euros. Prosecutors are now working to reveal how the clan raked in the enormous sum of money, and why the country’s job center kept public money flowing despite clan members openly flaunting their with wealth with luxury cars and mansions.
In most cases, for Germans to be eligible for unemployment and other social benefits, they need to first prove they have no personal assets they can rely on for funding. For those with luxury cars or high-end housing, the state will sometimes force them to sell and downgrade their lifestyle before gaining access to Hartz IV.
Badia Al-Z., who came to Germany without identification in 1990 and married a 12-year-old girl inside the country under Islamic law a year later, was arrested a year ago. The 47-year-old stateless person has been in custody the entire time, along with his two sons. The rest of those who stand accused, such as his wife, remain at large. She has nine children with Badia Al-Z.
Despite barely having a record of any work in his life, Badia Al-Z led a luxury lifestyle. When police first arrested him on June 8, 2021, they stopped him in a Mercedes S-Class vehicle and found €17,830 in cash in the vehicle. They then conducted a raid on the clan villa in Leverkusen, where investigators discovered another €341,415 in cash and jewelry worth around €200,000.
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The trial is seeking to reveal how the clan came into so much money, and they are pointing to a long list of crimes as the source of the clan’s revenue.
So far, Badia Al-Z. has never been convicted. In previous trials, witnesses tend to back out from testifying. For example, in 2019, after a restaurant was robbed and Badia Al-Z. was suspected, witnesses backed out of coming to court or withdrew statements.
Now back in court, Badia Al-Z does not appear concerned, often waving to his supporters or clenching his fist in defiance in front of the courtroom audience.
His lawyer claims it is all a “politically motivated” trial.
“There is a lot of political pressure on the public prosecutor,” he said.
It won’t be clear until November at the earliest what the court will decide in the current case, however, migrant clans have been implicated in murders, organized crime, and large-scale instances of violence.
Migrant welfare fraud a major problem in Germany
German taxpayers have long been on the hook for the country’s rapidly growing migrant population, with at least €64.5 billion in education, housing and integration benefits earmarked for migrants over the next four years, which also includes hundreds of millions of euros going to children of migrants living outside the country.
Welfare fraud plays a major role in these ballooning costs, especially given that German authorities have routinely displayed their ineptitude when it comes to detecting migrant fraud schemes, with such crimes routinely reported in the nation’s news media. For example, in the small German city of Braunschweig, asylum seekers, mostly from Sudan, were accused of committing benefit fraud worth millions. The “record holder” in that case had 12 identities which he rotated to receive benefits under each new name. Authorities in the city were pursuing 300 different cases just in 2017 alone.
According to the government report, the refugees registered several times at the state reception center in Braunschweig. Realizing they could gain benefits under different names, they would give themselves at least three to four different identities.
“Sometimes they grow a beard, sometimes they put on glasses, sometimes their hair is shorter — they always have different surnames,” said SOKO director Jörn Memenga.
In another case from 2018, a criminal syndicate helped Nigerian immigrants gain residency by offering Berlin authorities fake papers. Despite repeated internal warnings, the immigration reportedly continued approving the applications for years.