Court jails three ex-bankers in tax fraud scam

A German court on Monday handed prison terms to three former banking executives for their involvement in a tax fraud scandal that cost the government billions of euros.

First exposed in 2017, the “cum-ex” scam involved numerous participants across Europe swiftly exchanging company shares amongst themselves around dividend day, in order to claim multiple tax rebates on a single payout.

The German boss of the now defunct Maple Bank was sentenced to four years and four months in jail for serious tax fraud by Frankfurt’s regional court.

It also handed him a fine of 96,000 euros ($96,000), while 2.9 million euros of his wealth will be confiscated.

A second ex-banker was sentenced to four years and two months in prison and a fine of 60,000 euros, while a third received a three-and-a-half-year sentence.

The two defendants will also have to pay back their ill-gotten gains to the tune of one million and 800,000 euros respectively.

A fourth defendant was handed a two-year suspended sentence, but prosecutors will recover 5.7 million euros of his wealth.

Dozens of people have already been indicted over the “cum-ex” scandal in Germany, including bankers, stock traders, lawyers and financial consultants, and investigations are underway on more than 400 linked cases.

German authorities have searched top banks over the course of 2022 in relation to the case, including Deutsche Bank, Barclays, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase.

Authorities in the northern city of Hamburg came under fire for their 2016 decision to drop a bid to claw back 47 million euros in taxes from private bank M.M. Warburg over the trades.

Warburg eventually had to pay back tens of millions of euros under pressure from the federal government under former chancellor Angela Merkel.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who was mayor of Hamburg from 2011 to 2018, has been repeatedly forced to deny allegations he was involved in the decision to let the bank off the hook. (AFP)

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