Ex-tax office boss on cum-ex scandal: “Maybe we were too scared”

Ex-tax office boss on cum-ex scandal: “Maybe we were too scared”

What did Hamburg’s ex-head of the tax office for large companies know about the Warburg case? The senior tax officer testified on Friday in front of the Hamburg investigative committee on the “Cum-Ex” scandal. At the same time, the Cologne public prosecutor’s office is currently investigating them.

“In 2016 the Warburg Bank was searched, after which we waited for results such as a tax investigation report or an indictment. But nothing came, “said the ex-head of the tax office for large companies before the committee. “We were unsure.”

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Cum-ex scandal: 47 million euros in taxes barred

The investigative committee wants to clarify the allegation that leading SPD politicians were exerting influence on the tax treatment of the Warburg Bank, which was involved in the “Cum-Ex” scandal. The background to this are meetings between the then Mayor of Hamburg, Olaf Scholz, and the co-owner of the bank, Christian Olearius, in 2016 and 2017. At that time, there were already investigations against Olearius on suspicion of serious tax evasion.

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Hamburg later allowed possible additional tax claims of 47 million euros to be statute-barred, a further claim of 43 million euros was only called after the Federal Ministry of Finance intervened. In the meantime, the Warburg Bank has paid all tax claims, but this is not an admission of guilt, as it emphasized.

Uncertainty in the Hamburg tax office

“For the colleagues it was like a puzzle and with each new knowledge it solidified more and more into a picture,” continues the former head of the tax office. At the end of 2016, time was running out. The investigation against the bank was still ongoing. The responsible department head pointed out that they would now have to decide alone whether to claim back taxes from the bank.

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Fear of bankruptcy of the mighty Hamburg bank

The department head would have made it clear to her that the bank might have to go into bankruptcy if the bank had to repay the taxes. “The worst case would have been if we had reclaimed the capital gains tax and a week later the public prosecutor would have stopped the investigation,” said the interviewee.

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There were long discussions because the facts were very unclear. “Maybe I said at the end ‘let’s just leave it alone’”, she said.The former head of the tax office from Hamburg is said to have denied according to “Spiegel” before the Bonn district court that there was a written instruction from the Federal Ministry of Finance. She is also said to have said that the position of the BMF was “fully supported” at the time. The public prosecutor sees this statement based on the files as refuted.