Trial against Olearius: Cum-Ex proceedings: Where the real scandal lurks within the scandal

Trial against Olearius: Cum-Ex proceedings: Where the real scandal lurks within the scandal
Trial against Olearius: Cum-Ex proceedings: Where the real scandal lurks within the scandal

The end of the Cum-Ex trial against Hamburg’s former model banker Christian Olearius is bitter. But when it came to solving the tax scandal, he was only a deputy anyway – for a much more important party.

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The last day of the trial also lasted just 45 minutes, just as the court itself had ordered a few days ago, out of consideration for the defendant’s poor health. Shortly before 3 p.m. it was over, probably the most important white collar criminal case of the year – discontinued due to permanent inability to stand trial: Hamburg’s former model banker Christian Olearius, former boss and personally liable partner of the fine private bank MM Warburg, can now go back to his normal life.

No more complicated trips to the Bonn Regional Court, no more embarrassing interrogations, no more witness statements, and no verdict. Olearius had been threatened with up to ten years in prison for a total of 14 cases of particularly serious tax evasion through highly complicated stock transactions, generally known under the keyword “Cum-ex”. The public prosecutor’s office had argued that Olearius had defrauded the state of around 280 million euros in this way (with the help of some colleagues in the bank and resourceful lawyers). But now: nothing more, the proceedings against him, the former boss, are over.

Schröm exclusive note 11.12After all, Olearius had already paid off a large part of the damage – around 230 million euros – in 2020. The judge also attached great importance to the finding that the discontinuation of the proceedings was by no means an acquittal. Rather, it was merely a concession to the poor health of the now 82-year-old.

Cum-Ex caused billions in damage

But in view of the colossal accusations, the end is still painful. The rule of law can be quite exhausting. The total damage to the state from the stock transactions that almost all banks and resourceful large investors carried out in the 2000s runs into the tens of billions. But even then, the decision is not a scandal within a scandal, just as it is not a capitulation to the big guys after the small guys have been quickly hanged.

Doctors from the University of Cologne determined in their own report that Olearius has health problems. That has to be accepted. With the still reasonable 45 minutes per day of the hearing, the trial would have dragged on for more than 100 days, and thus for years. The public prosecutor’s office can collect the outstanding amount of more than 40 million euros in its own proceedings in the coming months, and this money does not have to be lost either.

What did Olaf Scholz know?

Now one can complain that the proceedings against Olearius could have been carried on for longer if the rules had been relaxed somewhat, for example if the sick defendant had been exempted from the obligation to be present in court.

Olaf Scholz – Stages of his life 15.09

But in truth, Olearius was also just a representative in a much larger investigation that is still waiting to be opened: What exactly did Olaf Scholz, who was the First Mayor of Hamburg during Olearius’s time at Warburg, later Federal Minister of Finance and now Federal Chancellor, know about the tax scandal? Olearius met with Scholz several times during his time as mayor – as we now know, in order to obtain a certain degree of leniency from Scholz in the disputes with Hamburg’s tax authorities.

Chancellor with memory gaps

Scholz himself says that he can unfortunately no longer remember the content of the conversations with Olearius. But anyone who knows Scholz, his meticulousness and his self-confidence in always being the first to understand even the most complicated issues, finds it difficult to believe that he suddenly has memory lapses.

In Hamburg, a committee of inquiry is investigating the role of the current chancellor, and the Union also wants to set up a committee of inquiry at the federal level. The traffic light coalition has so far prevented this in rare unity.

STERN 33_23 Fried Olaf Scholz Memory Gaps 12.15The further work of the Cologne public prosecutors will also be important: their boss Anne Brorhilker gave up a few weeks ago, frustrated by political opposition and ever new disputes. The big question now is: will Brorhilker’s colleagues continue their work so undaunted or will they capitulate to the unwillingness and finesse of important participants?

The investigation into the Cum-Ex scandal continues

For example, the Hamburg tax official who once ensured that the Warburg Bank was granted a temporary waiver of a tax claim worth millions from the share deals – immediately after a meeting between Scholz and Olearius. So far, she is facing charges including aiding and abetting serious tax evasion and breach of trust. This also carries a maximum sentence of ten years in prison. She has always remained silent – but whether that will remain the case when she goes to court has not yet been tested.

The discontinuation of proceedings against Olearius may be painful. But the much bigger and more important question of whether the rule of law is still capable of solving a scandal like Cum-Ex is now being decided elsewhere.

Source: Stern

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