Two leading members of the former East German Communist Party were arrested Friday for transferring $72-million in party funds abroad. Party leader Gregor Gysi, who reformed the party after the communist state collapsed last year, said he would offer his resignation today.
Gysi said his treasurer, Wolfgang Pohl, and an aide had secretly sent 107-million marks to bank accounts in Belgium and Norway of a Soviet firm believed by police to be a front for the Soviet Communist Party.
Pohl said he and party finance chief Wolfgang Langnitschke sent the money out of the country to prevent its confiscation by the German government agency charged with selling off the assets of the East German Communist government.
Both officials resigned and were arrested by police on charges of illegal financial transactions.
The party inherited the massive holdings of the communist government, a network of industries, hotels, publishing companies and houses. Until last fall, the East German Communist Party was considered the richest political party in Europe.
Last winter, the party's accounts _ estimated in July to be worth more than $300-million _ were largely frozen and a German government agency has been charged with selling off many old party assets as part of the privatization of the former East Germany.