Probably the biggest tax scandal in the history of the Federal Republic: With “Cum-Ex” stock transactions, banks and investors cheated the tax authorities for billions. Now there is a second verdict against a key figure.
In the Wiesbaden Cum-Ex trial, the defense pleads for the accused tax attorney Hanno Berger to be acquitted. In the period of the allegations from 2006 to 2008, the 72-year-old did not act intentionally, said lawyer Sebastian Kaiser on Friday. At that time there was no legal basis and no administrative opinion regarding cum-ex stock transactions.
On Thursday, the Frankfurt Public Prosecutor’s Office demanded a total of ten years and six months in prison for Berger for serious tax evasion in three cases. He should also pay back proceeds of the crime in the millions and remain in custody until the end of the proceedings. According to the latest planning, a verdict in the process is expected to fall on May 30th.
The public prosecutor’s office had accused Berger before the Wiesbaden district court of having obtained unauthorized tax refunds of 113 million euros from 2006 to 2008 with the help of complex cum-ex stock deals. In addition, Dax titles worth 15.8 billion euros were traded via former Hypovereinsbank stock dealers. The beneficiary was a real estate investor who has died in the meantime. The profits were divided.
Berger is considered the architect of the cum-ex deals, in which banks and investors never had paid capital gains tax refunded and cheated the state by an estimated double-digit billion amount. Investors used a loophole in the law and pushed shares with (“cum”) and without (“ex”) dividend rights back and forth around the dividend record date. Authorities no longer saw through and repeatedly issued certificates for capital gains tax and solidarity surcharge. For a long time it was unclear whether cum-ex deals were punishable by law. In 2021, the Federal Court of Justice ruled that they were to be classified as tax evasion.
As a lawyer, Berger had touted the deals with banks and the wealthy as legally secure tax optimization, advised on the construction of the deals and earned millions. In December, the district court in Bonn had already sentenced Berger to eight years in prison. In the event of a conviction in Wiesbaden, a total sentence can be formed by subsequent decision, then Berger faces even more time in prison. However, the Bonn judgment is not yet final.