Germany uncovers the biggest European tax fraud to date

Germany uncovers the biggest European tax fraud to date


BerlinUpdated:

The German weekly Die Zeit, together with other European media, has uncovered a plot in which, through operations with stock exchanges, large investors they have stopped paying up to 55,200 million euros in taxes to the tax authorities of several European countries. The most shocking thing is that the plot would involve almost all the major European banks and, according to the Spanish media El Confidencial, Santander would be among them. "This is the biggest tax fraud in the history of Europe," said Mannheim Professor of Economics Christoph Spengel. Among the Germans Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank are listed and, although the investigations began in Germany, the fraud does not affect only the German treasury.

The first discovery of the case goes back to November 7, 2016 when one of those responsible for the plot, who is identified with the false name of Benjamin Frey, began to be questioned by the prosecutor Anne Brorhilker, whom the German media describe as a female version of the famous inspector Colombo, underestimated by the heads of the investment departments of the big banks to which he asked questions but which used as much time and resources as were necessary to get to the end of the matter. Finally, he was able to prove that, with the help of banks, brokers and lawyers, large investors bought and sold shares around the date of payment of dividends from companies listed on the Stock Exchange, both titles entitled to the payment of dividends, the so-called shares « cum », as titles without the right to collect dividends, the so-called« ex ». The investors quickly circulated the share packages between them, passing them from one to another in a complicity relationship until the treasury lost the notion of who they belonged to. Finally, the Ministry of Finance reimbursed more taxes than it had collected for the operations thanks to the plot baptized as CumEx.

Already last year, Die Zeit and the program of reports Panorama, of the First Chain of the German Television ARD, had informed on the matter, being limited to the repercussions of the model for the German treasury. After this information, several Danish media detected the use of the same mechanism to defraud the Treasury, which was the origin of an international cooperation of means to investigate the plot at European level. The German Ministry of Finance would have been affected by value of about 32,000 million euros between 2001 and 2006. In Belgium, Denmark, Austria, Norway and Switzerland, the authorities have confirmed, officially or unofficially, they have been victims of the plot. In Spain neither the Ministry of Finance nor Banco Santander have responded to the accusation.

In the case of Germany, the fiscal gap was not rectified until 2012, after the financial crisis and the swindled state had approved the rescue package to German banks for a volume of 470,000 million euros, the largest aid program since World War II. Merkel, described the package as the "first stone" for a new order in the financial markets, whose purpose is "to protect the citizen, not the interests of the banks".

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