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Olaf Scholz to testify again before “Cum-Ex” investigative committee

Olaf Scholz to testify again before “Cum-Ex” investigative committee

Olaf Scholz has already testified twice before the Hamburg committee of inquiry into the “Cum-Ex” scandal at Warburg Bank. Now he is to be summoned a third time – but this time on a different matter.

Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) is to testify for a third time before the Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry (PUA) of the Hamburg Parliament on the Cum-Ex scandal. His name is on a witness list from the SPD and the Greens, which is available to the dpa. The two parties want to question Scholz in the committee in connection with “Cum-Ex” transactions of the former state-owned HSH Nordbank.

Other prominent current and former officials are also on the list. These include Hamburg’s mayor Peter Tschentscher (SPD), his predecessors Ole von Beust and Christoph Ahlhaus, as well as the former finance senator Wolfgang Peiner and the former prime minister of Schleswig-Holstein, Peter Harry Carstensen (all CDU).

North Rhine-Westphalia’s Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU) is also named in the two motions for evidence from the red-green coalition government, on which the investigative committee is to decide today. He is to answer questions from MPs on the status of the investigation into “Cum-Ex” transactions by the North Rhine-Westphalian state bank WestLB.

Olaf Scholz to provide information on the review process and follow-up

While Scholz and Tschentscher are to inform the committee about the external audit process and the review of the business of the former Landesbank of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein, which was privatized in 2018, since 2012, according to SPD chairman Milan Pein, Ahlhaus and von Beust are expected to provide information on how this could have happened.

“HSH Nordbank carried out ‘Cum-Ex’ transactions under the supervision of the CDU Senate between 2008 and 2011. We are therefore questioning the politicians responsible at the time, during whose time in government HSH carried out ‘Cum-Ex’ transactions,” Pein told dpa.

From 2013 onwards, HSH Nordbank investigated the illegal business practice by having an external report prepared and informing the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) and the public prosecutor’s office of the results, said Pein. “No other state bank had its ‘Cum-Ex’ transactions examined by external parties so early and proactively and refunded the funds wrongfully received, including interest.”

Scholz and Tschentscher had accompanied this process at the time as mayor and finance senator respectively “and can provide valuable information for the clarification.” Scholz has already testified twice before the PUA as a witness in connection with the business dealings of the Hamburg-based Warburg Bank, which was also involved in the “Cum-Ex” scandal.

Billions in damages from “Cum-Ex” transactions in Germany

In cum-ex transactions, stock traders traded shares with (“cum”) and without (“ex”) dividend entitlement back and forth between several parties around the dividend record date. In the end, the tax authorities were no longer sure who the securities belonged to. Tax offices refunded capital gains taxes that had not even been paid. This caused the German state billions in losses.

There is still a big question mark over HSH Nordbank’s “Cum-Ex” transactions, said Green Party chairman Farid Müller. “That is why we as citizens decided in winter 2022 to expand the investigative committee in this direction.” Summoning the witnesses is a crucial step in shedding light on the matter.

“We hope, among other things, that former supervisory board members and management board members of the bank from Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein will provide insightful statements that will benefit the clarification of this matter in the long term.”

The investigative committee was originally set up in 2020 to clarify possible political influence by leading SPD politicians on the tax treatment of Warburg Bank. Almost two years ago, the investigation mandate was expanded to include other cases – such as that of HSH Nordbank. It is questionable whether the committee will be able to complete its work in this legislative period. Hamburg state elections are scheduled for early March next year.

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Source: Stern

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