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Canada Tax evasion: Chaos looms at the start of the big cum-ex criminal process

23:03  28 september  2020
23:03  28 september  2020 Source:   handelsblatt.com

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Für den im Oktober beginnenden Cum-Ex-Prozess sind die Gerichtssäle zu klein. © imago images / rheinmainfoto The courtrooms are too small for the cum-ex process that begins in October.

The main defendant Hanno Berger claims to be unable to stand trial. The court expresses doubts. There are also problems with other defendants.

There wasn't much going on this year at the “Gibber Curb” fairground in the Wiesbaden district of Biebrich. The traditional fair fell victim to the corona pandemic. Now another hall is being built - but for a completely different spectacle.

On October 20th, the Wiesbaden Regional Court wants to start the main hearing in a highly regarded criminal tax procedure. The halls in the courthouse were too small, so the criminal chamber moved to the provisional facility.

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The process is about the biggest tax scandal of the past decades. For years, financial institutions traded blocks of shares in the billions around the dividend date with the sole aim of using the tax coffers. Both the actual shareholder and the buyer had capital gains taxes "refunded", which had only been paid once. The damage is put in the tens of billions.

It was a long way from the opening of the investigation by the Frankfurt public prosecutor's office eight years ago to the start of the main hearing in three weeks. So of the original eight accused, six remained who had to answer in court. The accused investor Raphael Roth has died, the proceedings against a tax expert from Hypovereinsbank (HVB) have been discontinued by the officials.

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However, who of the accused actually appears is completely open. The main defendant Hanno Berger left Germany when investigators searched the law firm and private rooms at the end of 2012. The prosecutors refer to Berger in the indictment as "Spiritus Rector", they see in him the mastermind of the business.

But Berger is unable to take part in the negotiation - for health reasons. Weeks ago he submitted certificates from his Swiss doctors to the court.

That was obviously not enough for the German judiciary. The court is said to have asked Berger to be examined by a German doctor. He should do a health check near the Swiss border to keep the travel stress within limits. It seems questionable whether Berger will get involved.

If the accused cannot provide an adequate apology, an arrest warrant is threatened. At the request of the Handelsblatt, his defense lawyer refused to comment. In the matter, Berger considers himself innocent and speaks of a “judicial scandal”.

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HVB dealer from London in the dock

Hardly any observer expects the appearance of Paul Mora, the other central defendant . The native New Zealander has withdrawn to his home country. According to reports, he does not want to face the procedure in Germany. In New Zealand he does not have to fear extradition to Germany.

At HVB, Mora was the head of the London desk when the cum-ex deals for the wealthy private client Raphael Roth were processed. Documents show that he was in close contact with Berger and knew exactly that the profits came from the German tax coffers. The New Zealander has not spoken to the public prosecutor. Mora's defender did not want to comment when asked.

The two stock traders Martin S. and Nick D., who once also worked for HVB in London, are pursuing a different strategy. Both were already on trial in Bonn and were cooperative there. After 40 days of trial, they were convicted of complicity and aiding and abetting tax evasion, but got away with suspended sentences.

The presiding judge attested that they had made a major contribution to the clarification, which had a mitigating effect on the books. S. in particular had lectured for days on how cum-ex stores worked, how they could be recognized and who benefited from them. S. had already unpacked at the public prosecutor's office and contributed to the fact that the authority was able to initiate or force around 30 preliminary investigations.

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S.'s defense attorney, Hellen Schilling, is therefore irritated that her client of all people has to go back to the dock - although many hundreds of accused have not yet cooperated. “Our client is fundamentally ready to continue on this path. However, the procedure in Wiesbaden is structurally comparable to that in Bonn, and there is considerable overlap in terms of content. The court will have to decide what the legal consequences will be, ”said Schilling.

Unlike Berger and Mora, S. and D. will sit in the dock together with two former HVB bankers from Munich - if Corona allows. D. has to arrive from Gibraltar, S. lives with his family in Dublin. The Irish capital is currently a corona hotspot.

More: Why the citizens' movement “Finanzwende” attacks authorities in the Cum-Ex scandal and calls for more investigators

Der Rechtsanwalt und Hauptangeklagte im Wiesbadener Cum-Ex-Prozess hat Deutschland vor Jahren verlassen und lebt seitdem in der Schweiz. © private The lawyer and main defendant in the Wiesbaden Cum-Ex trial left Germany years ago and has lived in Switzerland ever since.

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