Frank Eckhardt, the controversial land seller who advertises his advisory services to German-speaking “new settlers” in Cape Breton, and who featured in several media articles in 2020 because of his far-right views and alleged gouging of German clients, has been arrested and charged with extortion.
In a press release today, the RCMP reported that Eckhardt, 56, who lives in Grand River, which is about 20 kilometres east of St. Peter’s, has been released on conditions. He will appear in provincial court in Port Hawkesbury on February 28, 2022.
According to the RCMP, the investigation began in early December after the RCMP received reports of two people being extorted by the landlord. The press release continues:
During the course of the investigation, police learned that the two victims had immigrated to Canada, from Germany, with assistance from a man who would become their landlord. The victims had opened a business and were renting commercial space from the man. When the victims explored options for properly breaking their lease agreement, the man demanded money or property from the victims or he would ensure that the victims temporary work visas were revoked, which would result in their deportation.
The Halifax Examiner has been told by one source in the area who wishes to remain anonymous that the commercial space in question is a gym facility in St. Peter’s that Eckhardt purchased. Eckhardt had allegedly been charging the couple, fairly recently landed from Germany, $3,800 a month to stay there, while they also ran the gym on his behalf.
Eckhardt was featured in a July 2020 article in the German weekly magazine, Der Spiegel, and the Examiner has also reported extensively on him, most recently on November 23, in an article on real estate developers marketing Cape Breton to German speakers from Europe.
From the Examiner’s November 23 article:
F.E Properties is owned by Frank Eckhardt, whom Der Spiegel described as having the far-right leanings of the “Reichsbürger” (Citizens of the Reich) movement in Germany. According to German public radio, Reichsbürgers deny the legitimacy of the modern German state that developed after the fall of Nazi Germany.
Der Spiegel alleged that Eckhardt sends out emails that deny the Holocaust and promote Nazi ideology, and the Examiner reported here on his survivalist or prepper views, and his appearances promoting these on German television and online.
In August 2020, Renate Sedlmeier, Department Manager of Business Support Canada at the Canadian German Chamber of Industry and Commerce, which has been helping Germans and German companies get established in Canada since 1968, told the Examiner that her German business clients were “devastated” by the media reports about conspiracy theorizing and far-right ideologues selling land to like-minded German speakers in Europe.
Sedlmeier also said that she had had a couple of complaints about Eckhardt overpricing land for German clients.
In the summer of 2020, the CBC’s Tom Ayers reported on a German couple who had been looking to immigrate to Canada and found themselves in email contact with Eckhardt in their efforts to find land in Cape Breton. The couple told Ayers that Eckhardt sent them emails with Nazi propaganda attached that, “among other things, honoured Germans from the Second World War and denied six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.”
After media reported on Eckhardt’s political views, vandals painted Swastikas on some of his F.E. Property Sales signs and on August 28, 2020, a window at his St. Peter’s office was broken.
On September 2, Eckhardt sent a belligerent email — full of bold red, black, and blue font in various sizes — asking if he should send the bill for the thousands of dollars damages to me or to CBC.
Eckhardt asked why I was not writing an article about “Kristallnacht” of August 28 in St. Peter’s.
Kristallnacht — the “night of broken glass” — is the name given to the first of a series of pogroms against the Jewish population in Germany that was unleashed on the night of November 9 to 10, 1938, when Nazis killed close to 100 Jews, vandalizing and destroying their homes, businesses, and synagogues, and in its aftermath, arrested 30,000 Jewish men who were sent to concentration camps.
For this article, the Examiner emailed Eckhardt with a few questions about his real estate business, whether he buys and develops properties targeted to a particular market, and also inquiring if he still stands by his comparison between the vandalism of some of his real estate signs and Kristallnacht.
He has not replied.
According to today’s press release from the RCMP, investigations are continuing into the extortion case.