Thomas Schaefer, the finance minister of Germany's Hesse state, has died by suicide apparently after becoming "deeply worried", state premier Volker Bouffier said on Sunday (March 29).
Schaefer, 54, was found dead near a railway track on Saturday. The Wiesbaden prosecution's office said they believe he died by suicide.
"We are in shock, we are in disbelief and, above all, we are immensely sad," Bouffier said in a recorded statement.
Hesse is home to Germany's financial capital Frankfurt, where major lenders like Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank have their headquarters. The European Central Bank is also located in Frankfurt.
A visibly shaken Bouffier recalled that Schaefer, who was Hesse's finance chief for 10 years, had been working "day and night" to help companies and workers deal with the economic impact of the pandemic.
Popular and well-respected, Schaefer had long been touted as a possible successor to Bouffier.
Like Bouffier, Schaefer belonged to Dr Merkel's centre-right CDU party.
He leaves behind a wife and two children.