Senior public prosecutor Tim Engel will be the new chief investigator for cum-ex tax fraud involving stock transactions in Cologne. The North Rhine-Westphalian Justice Minister Benjamin Limbach (Greens) announced this on Friday. Engel follows Anne Brorhilker. Like his predecessor, the new chief investigator is the head of the department for economic crime at the Cologne public prosecutor’s office.

“I find it deeply regrettable that Ms. Brorhilker is leaving us,” said Justice Minister Limbach in the state parliament’s legal committee. This is undoubtedly a great loss for the judiciary and also regrettable for the Cum-Ex investigations.

The Cum-Ex fraud involving illegal share deals, which peaked between 2006 and 2011, is estimated to have defrauded the German state of a double-digit billion sum. Securities with (“cum”) and without (“ex”) dividend entitlements were quickly passed back and forth between financial players. In the end, the tax authorities unknowingly refunded banks, stock traders and consultants capital gains taxes that had not even been paid.

The opposition accused Limbach of not having sufficiently supported Brorhilker. The Minister of Justice rejected this: With four additional department positions for public prosecutors, their wish for more staff was fully met. The positions were filled even faster than promised.

Successor Engel had already dealt intensively with the Cum-Ex issue in the North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Justice, where he was responsible for the area of ​​white-collar criminal law between January 2020 and February 2023.

Brorhilker had criticized the political handling of the billion-dollar tax scandal. She is not satisfied with how financial crime is prosecuted in Germany. This type of tax theft is far from stopped; there are already Cum-Ex successor models.

The public prosecutor had spoken out in favor of a central, nationwide authority to combat financial crime. In the future, she herself wants to work as managing director of the Finanzwende citizens’ movement to fight financial crime.

Under Brorhilker’s leadership, around 120 cum-ex investigations were carried out against 1,700 suspects in Cologne. The public prosecutor’s office is therefore taking the lead nationwide in dealing with the scandal, which is considered the largest tax fraud in the history of the Federal Republic.