Does ‘Dead’ Billionaire Really Have Secret New Life in Moscow With His Mistress?

Roland Weihrauch/Getty Images
Roland Weihrauch/Getty Images

For years, questions have lingered over the baffling disappearance of billionaire Karl-Erivan Haub in the Swiss Alps. The former managing director of the German retail giant Tengelmann, who vanished in April 2018, was officially declared dead three years later.

Now the state prosecutor’s office in Cologne has opened an investigation into whether Haub’s brother, Christian Haub, gave false information in an affidavit in May 2021 when he claimed to know of no information that his missing sibling could still be alive.

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The prosecutor’s office says there is currently no reason to begin the process for an annulment of Haub’s death certificate, as there is not yet clear evidence that Haub survived. Christian Haub, who became the head of Tengelmann Group after his brother vanished, denies having given false statements.

“Of course there is no truth to the accusation,” Mark Binz, Christian Haub’s lawyer, told Zeit Online. “Until a few weeks ago, the Cologne public prosecutor’s office saw it that way and therefore refused to start an investigation.”

Karl-Erivan Haub, once one of the richest men in Germany, had set out alone on a ski tour on the morning of April 7, 2018. The 58-year-old, who was preparing for a ski mountaineering race, never returned from his excursion. A six-day search in the Alps featuring helicopters and rescue teams scouring crevasses also found no sign of him.

In the years since, reports have emerged in the German media that Haub—who was married and had two adult children—had possibly been living a secret new life in Moscow with a younger Russian woman.

The investigation into Christian Haub comes after a criminal complaint filed last year by a group of journalists working with broadcaster RTL. Liv von Boetticher, an investigative reporter that had been part of the RTL team looking into Karl-Erivan Haub’s disappearance for three years, told Germany’s Capital magazine that there is “strong evidence that he could have caused his disappearance intentionally and that at least parts of his family were aware of it and, against their better judgment, kept this secret from the Cologne District Court and the public.”

Boetticher said she had learned about photos possibly showing Haub in Moscow in 2021. “As far as I know, these photos were obtained on behalf of Christian Haub and two internal investigators working for him by an Israeli-American company that searched the biometric surveillance system in Moscow for images of Karl-Erivan Haub,” she said.

She added that as far as she is aware, Christian Haub had access to the images “when he stated under oath to the Cologne District Court in May 2021 that he had ‘no reliable evidence’ that his brother was still alive.”

Boetticher also claimed that traces to Russia emerged shortly after Haub’s disappearance. “[T]here was an alleged lover of Karl-Erivan Haub, with whom he had frequent telephone contact before his disappearance and who is in contact with the Russian domestic secret service FSB,” she said.

When asked about what possible reason Haub may have had for leaving for Russia, Boetticher said she suspects the answer may lie in his business connections in the country. “Our suspicion is that dealings with Russia or with Russian business partners may have put Karl-Erivan in trouble in the Western world,” she said.

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