Cum-Ex investigators have once again seized files from the Hamburg tax authorities. The Cologne public prosecutor’s office said on request that it was about an investigation against a Hamburg tax official, among other things, for favoritism. The measure was taken based on a search warrant from the Cologne District Court at the beginning of June. The “Spiegel” had previously reported on the campaign. The authority had already been searched in 2021.

A spokeswoman for the tax authority told the dpa that the documents were released voluntarily. She referred to “extensive cooperation” with the public prosecutor’s office. “For this reason and because of the voluntary release of the bundle of documents, there was no search.”

The role of the Warburg Bank

At the end of 2016, after discussions between Warburg banker Christian Olearius and Olaf Scholz (SPD), the then First Mayor of Hamburg and today’s Federal Chancellor, the Hamburg tax administration is said to have refrained from reclaiming 47 million euros from Warburg, which was due to illegal cum-ex- tax refunds. Scholz admitted the meetings with Olearius, but cited gaps in his memory regarding the content of these meetings. Scholz ruled out any influence on the tax proceedings against the Warburg Bank.

Meanwhile, criticism of the planned restructuring of the main department of the Cologne public prosecutor’s office responsible for cum-ex investigations continues. The anti-corruption organization Transparency Germany criticized the decision of NRW Justice Minister Benjamin Limbach (Greens) on Friday.

Transparency sees loss of trust

It gives the appearance of political influence on public prosecutor’s decisions. “As a society, we simply cannot afford for the cum-ex investigations to fizzle out. That would undermine trust in our constitutional state,” said Prof. Heribert Hirte, board member of Transparency Germany.

However, that was exactly how Limbach justified the restructuring: it was about preventing the statute of limitations for the cum-ex cases from running out and exonerating chief investigator Anne Brorhilker. According to the homepage, Brorhilker is a member of the advisory board of Transparency International.

Abolition of the right to issue instructions was called for

Transparency International is calling for the abolition of the justice ministries’ right to issue instructions to public prosecutors in Germany. The right to give instructions contradicts European law and is a foreign body in the system.

In cum-ex transactions, investors moved shares back and forth around the dividend record date with (“cum”) and without (“ex”) dividend entitlement. As a result, tax offices refunded capital gains taxes that had not been paid. The state suffered damage estimated at ten billion euros.