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Hamburg | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak

Wolfgang Holzem

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The dynamic city of Hamburg is not only the second biggest city in Germany, it is home to one of the biggest ports in Europe and has a well-earned place as the wealthiest city in the country. Perched on the banks of the majestic River Elbe, the free and Hanseatic city is situated just over 100km away from the North Sea and boasts a booming population of a whopping 1.8 million residents.

Germany | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak
3,116,950
Confirmed
21,934
Confirmed (24h)
80,387
Deaths
246
Deaths (24h)
2.6%
Deaths (%)
2,752,000
Recovered
15,900
Recovered (24h)
284,563
Active

The long-time international socialite of Germany, the city has always strived for independence, and has long been known as one of the most vibrant and successful international ports, trading successfully since the middle ages; proving to itself and the world of its ability to continue to be a tenacious achiever in its own right, and proudly touting the nickname of Boomtown Hamburg.

Today, the city is perched on the fringes of what is now one of the most valued and important harbours in all of Europe and has resolutely built a status that has managed to flourish through much adversary and devastation. Notwithstanding the major business background, the city is also the home to the vivaciously beating heart of the German media world.

Sprawling mansions, opulent villas and expansive townhouses are evidence of its wealth and stature as history dictates it, despite large parts of the city being destroyed in the air raids that devastated many parts of Germany in the Second World War. Much of the heritage has been restored to its former glory as the city was rebuilt, and historic buildings and architecture are a testament to the pride the citizens take in their incredible city.

The city just oozes charm as students and media executives rub shoulders with the super wealthy, and the city has managed to put itself into a class all on its own.

Best Time to Go

Germany itself has a decent climate all year round, making it the perfect destination for every type of traveller to visit. And because of Hamburg’s close proximity to the ocean, it is a destination that will suit those visitors who don’t really deal with the cold and snow in the winter, as it has a more oceanic climate. The weather is generally mild all year round, and snow is rare. Although the summer months of June, July and August are hotter than the rest of the year, you don’t get the soaring temperatures as you would say in Munich.

It rains for more than half the year, with averages of 130 days of rainfall recorded annually. But summer temperatures a cool and mild with highs reported no much more than around 21°C (70°F) during the peak of summertime.

Summer is the best time to go would be between the months of May and September, but be prepared to pay seasonal prices for everything. Hotels and air fares are sky high and there are queues to get into everything.

If you are not a fan of crowds, then fall would be the best time to go; the crowds have died down a bit and the prices are not so steep. December, January and February are cold, but Christmas sees a tourist boom as people flock into the city for the festive season. Even so, don’t think you can leave a winter holiday booking to the last minute, this is Hamburg, and it is always busy.

Getting Around in Hamburg

Being in Germany, Hamburg has an excellent public transport system; everything is on time and works like clockwork. There is a fantastic bus and train network that for the most part has service right throughout the night, especially on weekends. During the week in the outlying areas, you may find that there is no service after 11pm, so you would just need to check before you hop on.

The buses arrive and leave from the Rathausmarkt which is near the town hall and there is a special nachtbus or night bus service that will cover the service between the outlying areas and the center of the city. You can get tickets from the vending machines at the train stations and there are some at the bus stops as well. The bus drivers are very helpful and knowledgeable and will tell you which kind of ticket that you need to buy in case you are not sure. For visitors, the Hamburg Card is very handy, as it includes entrance to museums, sights and the public transport system and can be bought from all the bus drivers and ticket offices.

Public transport is very busy before 9am and between 4pm and 7pm; it is more comfortable for tourists to plan your day around those times. Bicycles are a very popular way to get around the city, especially during the summertime. Bike rental shops are all over the city and some hotels offer the facility too. Dedicated bike lanes make it simple to navigate your way around on your own, but maps are available from the tourist information centers.

Major Attractions and Sights

Miniatur Wunderland, is the world’s largest model railway and is broken up into 5 distinctive sections. You can see the breathtaking, miniature landscapes of Hamburg, America, Switzerland, Southern Germany, the German coast, the Alps and Scandinavia. There are working mechanized ships on real water, complete with a fully functional airport display with airplanes that can fly.

The Hamburg Zoo is a privately owned family zoo that was started in the early 1900s by Carl Hagenbeck Jnr, in his time a prominent wild animal merchant and trader. There is an entire rainforest, sea and desert in the zoo’s colossal troparium. There is a dolphin show, plenty of places to eat, lots of playgrounds for kids and enough to keep an entire family busy for the day.

Speicherstadt is an historic area that was used as a warehouse district, and when the ships used to come into port and offload their cargo the district was heaving with aromatic spices, silks and coffee. Unfortunately there are not tours through the inside of the buildings, but the experience and ambience of the district is worth the trip.

Planten un Blomen is a delightful park that is a favorite among visitors to the city. The summer time is obviously the best time to go and visitors can enjoy water, light and music shows. In winter they open an ice rink. The park is absolutely beautiful and perfect for a day’s outing with the kids.

The Rathaus (Town Hall) is bigger than Buckingham Palace, and this colossal town hall is one of the most popular sights in the entire city. A tour through this stunning historical landmark takes almost an hour and is worth every minute. The opulence, lavish interiors and majestic state rooms were inspired by the Piazza San Marco in Venice.

The Hamburg Dungeon is a must see for anybody out for a bit of a thrill, although perhaps not suitable for younger children as the adventure could be quite scary. A theme tour and grizzly presentations, demonstrate most graphically the darker, foreboding times of the city of Hamburg. Be whisked away into time and experience floods, fires and executions.

Chilehaus is an architectural feat of genius, and the brain child of architect Fritz Hoger who was commissioned to build it for a wealthy merchant. Brown bricked, the Chilehaus has been designed to resemble that of a massive ocean liner, complete with terraced balconies fashioned to look like decks, and was built in 1942.

Shopping in Hamburg

When it comes to shopping, Hamburg has it all, and be prepared to part with plenty of hard earned cash. Meander through the main shopping district as a start, in the middle of the city – the Mönckebergstraße. And if you really want to splash out on designer gear then head off to Gaensemarkt.

There is a brand new mall at the Alster Lake, just around the corner from the town hall, called the Europa Passage which is a must-go destination for any retail therapy enthusiast.

If you are after vintage and second hand treasures, then the best place would be to head out to Hot Dogs Marktstrasse, Kleidermarkt and Kurze Muhren.

Hamburg has quite many shops which claim “Second Hand”, but are more of an outlet. It’s still worth a visit though.

Eating Out in Hamburg

Foodies will be delighted with the choices and range of cuisine available in the steamy city. Traditional Hamburg dishes to try are Birnen and Bohen und Speck, or pears cooked with bacon and green runner beans, bratkartoffeln – pan fried slices of potatoes and pannfisch, which is pan fried fish. Order lots of zitronenlimonade to wash it down with – half beer and half lemonade, and you are good to go.

When it comes to desserts, you are in pastry heaven. Put the diet on hold and feast on a local favorite the franzbrotchen – a flat croissant like pastry that is filled with sugar, cinnamon and raisins and quite unique to the city.

Another favorite is thick, juicy ‘’hamburger’’ patties called frikadelle, served with vegetables and potatoes with gravy, rather than in a hamburger bun and are absolutely mouth-watering.

Try Lühmanns Teestube, which is a fantastic sidewalk café perfect for a scrumptious meal, and famous for their pastries and baked goodies. The Delta Bistro is quite pricey, but worth a bit of a splurge and has some fantastic local meat dishes, some say the best in the city. Hamburg has a great number of Indonesian, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants.

Nightlife in Hamburg

When it comes to a good night out on the town, you can be sure that these German folks know exactly what’s for what. And no matter what your music taste, you will be able to find a cozy corner for a chilled beer or a dance floor that will tickle your fancy until the wee hours.

There are lots of festivals and open air concerts on during the year, and are very popular during summer, so if you are looking for something with a bit more culture that just one cocktail after another, you may just be in luck. Everything from opera, orchestral concerts, and trendy lounge clubs to underground grunge clubs – Hamburg has it all and then some. And with the public transport system being on hand right through the night, you don’t have to worry about finding a taxi back to your hotel when you are all partied out.

Try out Lago Bay which is located between Hamburg City Beach Club and Hamburg del Mar. You’ll find it a trendy place for a cocktail and to lounge around at the pool; make your way to the Moroccan lounge next door once the sun goes down.

Strandpauli is a great lively place to head out to for a relaxed evening overlooking the harbor. Tango the night away under the thatched reed roof, let your toes sink into the sand and feast on sausages, washed down with plenty of beer and cocktails.

Of Local Interest

There are cultural, historical, music and arts festivals held throughout the year in Hamburg, and there is something on in the city for every season. Summer happenings are hugely popular as many of the events are held outside, the weather is great and people are out and about. The end of the year is also popular as there are some very special traditional markets that are held here in the run up to Christmas and the festive season in Hamburg is effervescent. There are loads of beer festivals, sporting events such as the International German Open Tennis held here every year in July, and the Hamburg Harley Days Festival which is a must-not miss for motorcycle fans from around the world, is held every year in the city in June.

The Wutzrock Festival

Every year, the Wutzrock festival is great for all music lovers and heaven for rock music enthusiasts. It is in close proximity to the city and the best part is that the entrance to the open air festival is completely free of charge.  Normally held over the last weekend of August, it is located at the Eichbaumsee, which is situated conveniently next to the train station.

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Former founder of Asiarooms.com and now reporting mainly on the Asia Pacific region and the global Coronavirus crises in countries such as Thailand, Germany & Switzerland. Born near Cologne but lived in Berlin during my early teenage years. A longterm resident of Bangkok, Udon Thani, Sakon Nakhon and Phuket. A great fan of Bali, Rhodes & Corfu. Now based on Mallorca, Spain.

Germany

Wirecard : How Jan Marsalek Friend Henry O’Sullivan became “Corinna Müller”

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Henry OSullivan

The Briton Henry O’Sullivan is regarded as the dazzling puller of many Wirecard deals and friend of Jan Marsalek and internal emails show how big his influence was in the company.

Henry O’Sullivan celebrated his 40th birthday in paradise. He invited lawyers, managers and high-ranking executives from Wirecard to the lonely dream island of Benguerra off the coast of the East African state of Mozambique. Board member Jan Marsalek and his girlfriend should also come.

As a souvenir, the host wanted: pens for the school children in town and champagne for the party weekend.

The luxury resort Azura Retreats, which O’Sullivan rented in November 2014, had cabins right on the beach, palm trees, and a beach. On arrival, the guests would have to wade through knee-deep water as the British businessman’s assistant warned a month before the celebration. That wasn’t a problem for Jan Marsalek. He preferred to travel by helicopter anyway, according to an email from his secretary.

The extravagant birthday plans reveal a lot about two of the central key figures in the Wirecard scandal. Jan Marsalek (40) and Henry O’Sullivan (46) are close confidants who worked together on big deals far away from the headquarters in Aschheim. Now the judiciary is asking whether millions have been diverted. Wirecard is insolvent and Marsalek is on the run.

O’Sullivan does not answer inquiries. At the beginning of 2020, he only wanted to talk to the examiners from KMPG and EY under certain conditions but then he was no longer available to them.

The beefy Brit was known for his dissolute lifestyle. In Singapore he often dined in a top restaurant on the roof of the Marina Bay Sands hotel, with a view over the harbor. To save time on business trips, he preferred to travel short distances by helicopter instead of taxi and in the meantime he lived on a yacht in Monaco.

Marsalek had O’Sullivan flown in in 2014 to celebrate with him at the Munich Oktoberfest. A year later they flew through South Africa in the Learjet 45XR. And when the Briton wanted to meet the Wirecard executive board in Jakarta in 2014, he asked an Indonesian employee by email about a hotel that would tolerate the “type of spring break business trips”.

Beyond its luxury life, only fragments of O’Sullivan’s businesses are known. The Briton did not hold an official position at Wirecard. Many consider him a “phantom” in the background, a member of the mysterious clique around Marsalek.

It was stored in the Wirecard address book with an external e-mail address for freelancers – his profile photo showed Pablo Escobar, the Colombian drug lord: another bad joke by Jan Marsalek, as insiders suspect.

As much as O’Sullivan was on business trips, he was always careful to be discreet. This is also shown by an episode from spring 2020, when the Wirecard world was already falling apart and auditors examined the opaque third-party business for which Marsalek was responsible.

O’Sullivan was very knowledgeable about third party business and a strange company purchase in India in 2015. He was therefore a sought-after discussion partner for the annual auditors from EY and the special auditors from KPMG. O’Sullivan apparently managed to convince the supervisory board of a special protective measure.

A sought-after discussion partner for EY and KPMG

O’Sullivan demanded at the end of April or beginning of March 2016 that his name should not be recorded in the “final report” or in any other correspondence with Wirecard. “These papers have a habit of appearing in public,” he wrote to an assistant at Marsalek. He assumes that “everything that is written will ultimately be read by others” and he therefore insists on being given a pseudonym.

This is how Mr. O’Sullivan became Mrs. Müller. On March 4, a legal advisor to the Supervisory Board wrote to Wirecard management: “As discussed yesterday, a code name should be used for all further e-mails and other references. Proposal: ‘Ms. Corinna Müller’. ”On the same day, EY agreed not to use the name in communication with Wirecard international.

According to supervisory board circles, however, it was clear: There should be no special treatment in the confidential internal audit report, and O’Sullivan’s real name would have been mentioned here.

How those involved initially adhered to the language regulation became apparent on March 4, 2020. When O’Sullivan allegedly canceled an appointment in Monaco due to Corona entry regulations from Singapore, Marsalek’s assistant wrote to the auditors at KPMG: “Ms. Müller is herself aware of the time pressure and has agreed to contact us tomorrow with a short-term alternative. “

But it did not get to that. According to the “Wall Street Journal”, the special auditor KPMG was cross: O’Sullivan had also made the condition of their auditors anonymous. When they refused, he refused to speak.

He could tell so much in the process. In the ten years before the bankruptcy alone, Wirecard acquired companies for 1.2 billion euros, according to insolvency administrator Michael Jaffé. In his report, Jaffé writes that the deals were one reason for the “enormous consumption of liquidity in recent years”. The public prosecutor is investigating former executives on suspicion of fraud and breach of trust.

O’Sullivan was involved in numerous Wirecard deals. His name is linked to one of the largest and most dubious deals the payment service provider has done in recent years: the takeover of the Indian Hermes group in 2015. Wirecard bought the companies from the Mauritius-registered fund Emerging Markets Investment Fund 1A (EMIF 1A) for 326 million euros. The amazing thing: the fund had only acquired the same company and assets a few months earlier for around 35 million euros and it is still not clear who was behind that deal

Marsalek stated in an interview with Handelsblatt at the beginning of 2020 that he had not checked the background. But insiders report that O’Sullivan and Marsalek were the ones who planned the deal and who ultimately benefited from it. In any case, the original Hermes sellers now feel cheated. They filed a lawsuit that revealed that it was O’Sullivan who negotiated the sale to the EMIF 1A fund for € 35 million.

O’Sullivan also appears at another important point in the Wirecard network, the so-called third-party business. Wirecard achieved a large part of its sales with it, at least according to the balance sheet. Essentially, three companies provided the supposed income: Pay Easy from the Philippines, Al Alam from Dubai and Senjo from Singapore.

The central figure in Senjo was also O’Sullivan, even if he did not hold an official position. A PR consultant for the British company stated in 2019 that her client worked for Senjo. That’s only half the story. In practice, O’Sullivan is said to have been the one in charge of Senjo. In Singapore, the authorities are now investigating for falsification of accounts in the vicinity of the group of companies.

How hard Marsalek worked internally at Wirecard for his party friend O’Sullivan is shown by a short-term lending business from 2016, which several Wirecard board members dealt with. Ascheimer Wirecard Bank AG granted Cottisford Holdings Ltd, a generous credit line of ten million euros from O’Sullivan, for which Wirecard AG guaranteed as internal emails and documents prove this.

“Today the supervisory board formally approved the loan retrospectively, but was not ‘amused’ about it,” wrote the then board member Rainer Wexeler of Wirecard Bank AG on March 2, 2016 to Marsalek. He complained that the panel had been poorly informed. Wexeler asked: “Can you please give me the private address of O’Sullivan and some key business data about his business, his connection to Wirecard AG, etc.?”

Wirecard credit for companies in a tax haven

Marsalek did not reply in writing, but less than a month later he informed him why O’Sullivan’s company had not paid the money back on the agreed date. “The delay resulted from an unexpected complication in the distribution of dividends from one of its holdings.” O’Sullivan believes that the problem “will be resolved in the next few days,” wrote Marsalek.

Wexeler was evidently unsure of the loan. He asked: “It would still be important to know how the money that we made available to him was invested.” There is no answer to this, but that Marsalek suddenly advocated the loan “just days later” long-term “.

The borrower, Cottisford Holdings Ltd., also comes from an island that is likely to be O’Sullivan’s favorite vacation destination, as the British Virgin Islands are a paradise not only for tourists, but also for lovers of lax tax rules.

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Wirecard Scandal claims another Victim – Heike Pauls from Commerzbank

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It’s not even eight months since Germany’s number one payment service provider imploded: Wirecard had to admit in June 2020 that billions of euros never existed on the balance sheet. As a result, board members had to go to jail or disappeared without a trace. Since then, auditors have been distrusted, and the head of the BaFin supervisory authority has to look for a new job. The youngest victim is Heike Pauls of the German Commerzbank.

Up until a few weeks before the Wirecard scandal burst, several analysts in various banks believed in Wirecard. They unshakably believed that the annual financial statements for 2019, which had been postponed several times, would end well, some experts continued to insist on Wirecard price targets of 180 to 240 euros.

One of the bravest supporters of the scandal group was Heike Pauls from Commerzbank. The analyst was always loyal to Wirecard: She dismissed critical reports about the payment processor as false reports and even a few weeks before the collapse she issued a buy recommendation with a price target of 230 euros for the Wirecard share.

As the Spiegel reported, Pauls had in the meantime also provided the management of the payment processor with sensitive information that it had collected specifically on the capital market. In January Commerzbank had already restructured the research department and relieved the analyst of her duties, now the announcement was made:

“Commerzbank has terminated the employment relationship.”

The Wirecard scandal is far from being dealt with. Further personnel consequences in various economic areas could follow. Extensive claims for damages by investors against the insolvent payment service provider are also examined and the the Wirecard share remains taboo for any investors.

 

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Wirecard Committee – Doubts about Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg’s Credibility

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Wirecard Committee Doubts about Guttenberg's credibility

Didn’t Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg tell the whole truth when he appeared as a witness on the Wirecard investigative committee? Internal documents that are available to the ARD studio fuel the suspicion. The SPD accuses him of having lied to the committee and in the opposition too, doubts about its credibility are growing.

In December Guttenberg was asked about his role in the Wirecard scandal in the Bundestag. It was also about an article that the former CSU minister published in the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” at the end of March 2020. The topic: The role of short sales in the Corona crisis. At the time, Wirecard was targeted by shortsellers, i.e. stock exchange traders who bet on falling prices for a company and Guttenberg had argued against such short sales in the article.

Mail to ex-Wirecard boss Markus Braun

Guttenberg apparently did not want to draw a direct connection to his work for Wirecard, but there are doubts about this representation.

An email to the then Wirecard boss Markus Braun, however, indicates that Guttenberg could very well have had the now insolvent DAX group in mind when he wrote the text for the FAZ. 

In this email of March 20, 2020, the Managing Director of the communications company Edelman, Rüdiger Assion, proposed a “Short Selling Action Plan” to the Wirecard boss. Among other things, this contained the suggestion that Guttenberg could write a guest commentary on the subject of short sales in the newspapers FAZ or “Die Welt”. An argumentation paper with key messages is also attached to the mail. Just six days later, exactly such a guest comment appears in the FAZ. Guttenberg’s argumentation shows clear similarities with the line proposed in the argumentation paper.

SPD speaks of a lie

The SPD chairman in the Wirecard committee, Zimmermann, therefore accuses Guttenberg of not telling the truth on the witness stand. Zimmermann told the ARD city studio: “He (Guttenberg’s note by the editor) lied to the investigative committee and tried to set the wrong track when he denied arguing for a ban on short sales in the interests of Wirecard. A real surprise is this lack of honesty not with him. ” Now it must be clarified whether Guttenberg deliberately wanted to mislead the investigative committee.

CDU defends Guttenberg

Guttenberg is defended by the CDU. The MP Matthias Hauer said that the SPD should primarily devote itself to the question of why the BaFin, supervised by Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, imposed the short sale ban on Wirecard. “This should certainly contribute more to the explanation of Wirecard than an article in the name of an ex-politician on the subject in the FAZ.”

But doubts about Guttenberg’s credibility are also growing among the opposition. The chairman of the Greens, Danyal Bayaz, said that Guttenberg’s remarks on his opinion contribution had already been implausible in the committee of inquiry. “Apparently it was part of the advisory service to specifically win over public opinion for a renewed ban on short selling.” That does not cast a good light on Guttenberg’s honesty.

The Linke chairman in the committee, Fabio de Masi, can imagine summoning the former Federal Minister again: “If Mr. Guttenberg was Baron Münchhausen and had said the untruth in front of the committee of inquiry, this would also be criminally relevant, (…) the question is then whether his other statements that he had met the Chancellor privately are also untrue. “

 

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