Syed Rahman of financial crime specialists Rahman Ravelli considers the circumstances that tax lawyer Hanno Berger is facing.
A German court has stated that one of the alleged architects of the Cum-Ex share selling trading strategy could face up to 15 years in jail and have assets worth more than 100M euros frozen.
Tax lawyer Hanno Berger is facing the possibility of imprisonment and losing assets after a ruling from Frankfurt appellate judges said that Cum-Ex was “designed to be fraudulent from the very beginning.”
Berger, aged 70, has been charged in relation to Cum-Ex. The court rejected his attempt to have his arrest warrant quashed ahead of a trial. A trial – Germany’s third relating to Cum-Ex – began in Wiesbaden without Berger being present. Berger’s legal representative argued that the court had failed to properly summon his client. He added that Berger is in hospital and not fit to travel to Germany for the trial.
The trial was set to begin in 2020 but was twice postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. German prosecutors have identified more than 1,000 suspects from the financial services sector who are being questioned about involvement in Cum-Ex.
The controversial trading tactic saw shares sold back and forth to use loopholes on dividend taxes to gain duplicate refunds. Germany began its investigations into Cum-Ex nine years ago.
As Hanno Berger is often described as the mastermind of Cum-Ex trading, it is inevitable that any legal developments in relation to him are considered newsworthy. While it remains to be seen if and when he will appear before a court, he is expected to robustly defend himself. The proceedings, therefore, will be an interesting insight into both himself and the way that Cum-Ex developed.