July 20, 2024

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German Billionaire Presumed Dead May Be Hiding in Russia |  outside

German Billionaire Presumed Dead May Be Hiding in Russia | outside

Karl Erivan Hope, one of the richest Germans, disappeared more than five years ago during a skiing holiday in the Swiss Alps. His body was never found. New clues lead to Russia. The big question: is he still alive?

The mysterious disappearance of German businessman Karl Erivan Hope brings an unexpected turn to the plot. Haub, who has been missing since spring 2018, announced his death two years ago. But the case may be reopened after new evidence in which the Russian secret service and former Stasi agent plays a prominent role.

For example, a recent photograph featuring the German appeared in Moscow, the weekly magazine Stern wrote this week based on its own research. Stern obtained the photo, which was taken the year of Hope’s death, thanks to a KGB informant. Image quality is good and matches previous Haub images by 90 percent thanks to facial recognition software.


Mystery over the Matterhorn

On April 7, 2018, the 58-year-old German billionaire disappeared while skiing the famous Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps. He never returned to his hotel in the luxury resort of Zermatt. One of the largest searches in the history of Switzerland followed, but it came to nothing. The official reading was that the German had died in an accident.

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Soon after his disappearance, serious doubts arose about the story. No traces were found, nor were any gloves, hat, or other ski clothing he was wearing. Documents recently released by family members on German TV channel RTL show that they estimate the risk of an accident at no more than 5 percent. Haub was an accomplished skier.

Pictured on the cable car in the Swiss Alps where the German businessman's last phone signal was caught.
Pictured on the cable car in the Swiss Alps where the German businessman’s last phone signal was caught. © Environmental Protection Agency

Close contact with Russian Veronica

His phone, which had been switched off since the morning of his disappearance, also fueled further speculation. The night before, Haub had contacted Veronica E., a Russian woman who was later revealed to be working for the FSB. As CEO of the Tengelmann supermarket group, Haub regularly traveled to Russia, both privately and on business. Ten years ago he would have met E. in St. Petersburg. The two were in close contact.

In addition, Haub, whose fortune was estimated at about 6 billion euros at that time, had big plans to open supermarket branches in Russia. To attract financing, according to Stern, he did business with shady investment bankers from “Russia’s most criminal banks”.

Karl-Ervan Hope with former German Chancellor Angela Merkel in one of his supermarkets.
Karl-Ervan Hope with former German Chancellor Angela Merkel in one of his supermarkets. © Reuters

A joint venture with a Russian party, which enticed Tengelmann to release 42.5 million euros, failed. According to the RTL reporter who participated in the investigation, he may have come into the crosshairs of the US authorities, after which the Russian contact appeared.

Former Stasi agent

After Hope disappeared from the face of the earth in 2018, a years-long battle between brothers Christian and George over the succession to the family business founded by their father immediately erupted. Brother Christian, who eventually triumphs and becomes CEO of the company from Mülheim an der Ruhr, summons a former Stasi agent to investigate the disappearance of Karl Erivan.

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File photo of rescue helicopters searching for the German in the mountains at the time.
File photo of rescue helicopters searching for the German in the mountains at the time. © Environmental Protection Agency

During the investigation, the anonymous caller was going to force Christian and the officer to stop the missing person investigation, Stern reveals. Christian does not answer the weekly questions. He points to a family statement issued in May 2021, the year Carl Erivan Hope’s death was announced.

New clues uncovered by Stern and RTL prompted the Cologne Public Prosecutor to reconsider Hope’s death statement.

Carl Erivan Hope.
Carl Erivan Hope. © Photo News