Pandora Papers: Structure Behind Nursing Home Raises Questions


Status: 02.11.2021 6:00 p.m.

The “Goldenherz” nursing home in Berlin appears in the Pandora Papers with a difficult to understand ownership structure. Relatives of former residents have been making serious allegations against the home for a long time.

By Petra Blum and Zita Zengerling, NDR

When Werner Baumann (Name changed by the editors) When he visited his brother in the “Goldenherz” nursing home, he often screamed in pain. The nurses often didn’t mind, said Baumann. “They didn’t react at all,” he says. When his seriously ill brother was admitted to a clinic after about two months in the facility, the doctors diagnosed “exsiccosis” and “decubitus”: In German this means dried out and sore. “The patient is in poor condition,” says the treating doctors’ report NDR and “Süddeutscher Zeitung” (SZ) is available.

In the past few years, the Berlin home supervisory authority had to come to the home several times due to complaints about unannounced examinations that the handling of medication “in one case did not correspond to the doctor’s orders”, and on several occasions too few specialists were found.

The situation improved

These reports also lie NDR and SZ before. In the current report of the Medical Service of the Health Insurance Funds (MDK), there are poor ratings in pain management and a deficit in medication intake. However, this report turns out to be significantly better than many reports from previous years, and “Golden Heart” achieved full marks in almost all other criteria.

The managing director of “Goldenherz”, Boris Levin, replied: “As of today”, the home supervisor has nothing to complain about. He announced that extensive measures had been taken since 2017 to improve the quality of care. Our care is very good. We have more doctors than required by law, “he said. The shortage of nurses is a challenge for society as a whole, he writes:” As of today, we are complying with the legal requirements. “

Pandora Papers Reveal Background

Steffen Färber, head of the social department at the Berlin State Office for Health and Social Affairs, knows the facility personally. “I was there myself several times,” he says, and “the home supervisory authority in Berlin had to carry out event-related examinations particularly frequently at the ‘Goldenherz’ care facility.” With regard to the current status of the nursing home, Färber adds: “We continue to monitor the facility closely. A facility that has been checked for a long time and, as we have just seen, more often, is unfortunately mostly not up to date tomorrow then completely back on the whole way. ”

What the authorities in Germany were not previously aware of are the structures behind the nursing home. These are revealed in the Pandora Papers, a data breach that NDR, WDR and SZ together with the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The Berlin home also appears in the confidential documents. The nursing home is owned by letterbox companies in Cyprus. This corporate structure and its owners raise questions. It emerges from the Pandora Papers that Boris Levin is not only the managing director, but also one of the owners of the Cypriot companies to which “Goldenheart” belongs.

Nursing homes in Germany have long been regarded as a lucrative investment for foreign investors: the aging society ensures increasing demand, the welfare state ensures stable income.

Big debts and puzzling profits

According to Goldenherz’s balance sheet, the home has only shown a surplus in a few years; the same applies to the associated physiotherapy practice. Otherwise, the home’s balance sheets show high loans and often loss carryforwards.

In contrast to this, however, there is now a document from the Pandora Papers, in which it is noted that the Cypriot parent company is to receive 200,000 euros annually – from the profits of “Golden Heart”. It should be used to make expenses and pay dividends, so it is in the paper. It was signed by managing director Boris Levin personally.

Although “Golden Heart” has seldom shown any financial profit for years, according to the balance sheets available, Levin confirmed that 200,000 euros in profit should flow annually. Where these profits should come from remains unclear. When asked, Levin initially denied that such a promise had even been made. After the Pandora Papers were published, however, he admitted that the document existed with his signature. At the same time, he denies that payments were made at least in 2018.

Dubious shareholders

Behind the Cypriot company that Levin says is a normal company is another company – the Pandora Papers reveal that too. At one point it was a shareholder in Ruven Katz, who was fined in the USA in 2015 for gang-style fraud in the healthcare sector. Another owner, Zeev Ofer, appears in various leaks, such as the Panama Papers, but also in the Pandora Papers, with numerous offshore companies whose purpose is unclear. Both did not want to comment on request. Boris Levin merely stated that they had known each other from childhood.

Boris Levin also confirmed on request that he was the director general of three geriatric, non-public hospitals in Israel. NDR and SZ there is an indictment from Israel from 2019. Under the item “Defendants”, among other things, the name Boris Levin is noted, with the same date of birth that Boris Levin has given in the German commercial register. The indictment concerns the employment of foreign nurses without the required permission. A judgment is pending, the presumption of innocence applies. Boris Levin let it be known on request that he had never been charged.

The criminologist Dina Michels is not very surprised by the nested structure behind “Goldenheart”. She specializes in the health sector. The health insurance companies spend 250 billion euros a year, she says: “It pays to build complex corporate structures with an international focus in order to withdraw the highest possible amounts from the system for your own benefit only.”

At least that is the experience of the KKH Kaufmännische Krankenkasse, for which Michels tries to combat misconduct in the health care system. Michels is of the opinion: “The system practically attracts criminals.”

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