Munich, Germany: German investigators said they arrested a suspect on Thursday in connection with a corruption scandal involving several politicians from Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative alliance and the procurement of coronavirus masks.
The suspect, named by German media as businessman Thomas Limberger, was detained and investigators seized "ex-tensive" assets belonging to him, the public prosecutor's office in Munich said.
Several politicians from Merkel's CDU-CSU bloc have been implicated in the "mask affair" which has seen them accused of profiting directly or indirectly from procurement contracts.
Limberger is accused of arranging mask deals and processing payments through his network of companies, according to Der Spiegel and the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.
Munich prosecutors are investigating a total of five suspects in connection with the scandal, which has contributed to plummeting support for Merkel's conservatives six months before general elections.
They include CSU lawmaker Georg Nuesslein, who was last month placed under investigation for corruption following accusations that he accepted around 600,000 euros ($715,000; Dh2.5 million) to lobby for a mask supplier.
Bavaria's former justice minister Alfred Sauter is also under investigation in connection with the case.
Nuesslein has left the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, while Sauter has resigned from all his posts in the CSU party.
A similar controversy has embroiled CDU lawmaker Nikolas Loebel, who gave up his mandate after his company alleg-edly pocketed 250,000 euros in commissions for acting as an intermediary in mask contracts.
The affair erupted in the run-up to two key regional elections in Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate this month, with the conservatives scoring their worst ever results in both states.
With the conservatives moving to clean up their ranks, other MPs have since also come forward over conflicts of inter-est beyond the "mask affair".
Mark Hauptmann, a CDU lawmaker from the state of Thuringia, gave up his mandate over accusations that he had re-ceived payments from foreign governments such as Azerbaijan to lobby for them.
And Tobias Zech, a member of the Bundestag lower house of parliament for the CSU, resigned over paid PR work alleg-edly carried out for a political party in Macedonia.