The German prosecutor’s office has reopened an investigation into the so-called cum-ex scandal – a billion-dollar tax fraud. As a result, several private apartments and the offices of the tax office in Hamburg were searched. Olaf Scholz – the candidate of the Allied Democrats for the chancellor of Germany – is associated with the case. Angela Merkel’s potential successor has previously served as Hamburg’s mayor and finance minister.
The investigating prosecutor’s office in Cologne wants to determine whether the Hamburg senate and leading SPD politicians (including Scholz) could exert influence on the tax office in Hamburg, which as a result of these actions forgave Bank Warburg EUR 47 million in taxes. As a result of the so-called the cum-ex scandal of stock trading while taking advantage of tax loopholes, the German tax authorities lost billions of euros.
The prosecutor’s office resumes the investigation
In connection with this scandal, the prosecutor’s office conducted searches of the tax office and several private apartments in Hamburg on Tuesday. The prosecution wants to find out why Bank Warburg was allowed in 2016 to withhold illegally obtained tax refunds amounting to EUR 47 million (resulting from the use of illegal cum-ex transactions). The investigation is to determine whether the case was influenced by Scholz – as the federal minister of finance and previously mayor of Hamburg – describes the economic magazine “WirtschaftsWoche”.
So far, Scholz has not been proven to be related to the scandal, despite the alleged relationship with former Bank Warburg employee Christian Olearius. “Revealing such connections could cost Scholz the office of the chancellor” – emphasizes the NDR radio website. Apart from Scholz, other SPD politicians also appear in the case, including Johannes Kahrs.
Commission of inquiry into the cum-ex scandal
In addition to the actions of the prosecutors from Cologne, the parliamentary investigative committee working in Hamburg is also trying to shed light on the case. The Bundestag has also dealt with the tax scandal in Hamburg during the last term of office. “The Finance Committee fiercely argued with the Federal Ministry of Finance about the public disclosure in July 2020 of the minutes of the hearing of Finance Minister Scholz,” adds “WirtschaftsWoche.” Scholz’s testimony has not been disclosed to this day, and in the summer of 2020 the issue of the Hamburg financial scandal was “covered by a pandemic”.
“Recent searches in Hamburg show that apparently there is still a need for clarification,” emphasizes “WirtschaftsWoche”. They were subject to investigation, inter alia, officials from the tax office in Hamburg, who previously testified in the case in favor of Scholz and SPD politicians, including Kahrs.
Scholz suspected of lobbying for the bank
Left politician Fabio De Masi, a member of the Bundestag’s investigative committee, believes that Scholz has been lobbying for Bank Warburg. Kahrs, who “received a donation from Olearius to the Hamburg SPD, which has not yet returned this donation,” added “WirtschaftsWoche” also assisted in the Bank’s contacts with the Ministry of Finance.
However, as the German media note, for Scholz’s supporters, the financial scandals surrounding him as federal finance minister do not seem to matter much – most Germans see him as the new chancellor. In addition to the cum-ex scandal, the Wirecard case was high-profile, or the recent search in the Ministry of Finance as part of an investigation against the Ministry of Finance’s FIU (anti-money laundering unit).
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / FOCKE STRANGMANN