A German bank, which was founded by German Jews and survived Adolf Hitler’s regime has now found itself in hot water over a tax scandal that media referred to as the century’s biggest, Bloomberg reported.
The Hamburg-based private bank M.M. Warburg & Co. is alleged to have participated in a controversial dividend trades scheme codenamed Cum-Ex that purportedly exploited double tax reimbursements.
According to prosecutors, Cum-Ex, translated from Latin as “With-Without”, took advantage of old German tax laws that applied until 2012, and enabled multiple investors to claim tax refunds on a dividend levy that was paid only once.
The scandal, also referred to as the “biggest tax heist in Germany”, kicked the financial institution’s longtime chairman, Christian Olearius, as well as co-owner Max Warburg, a direct descendant of the founders, out of their board roles, and reportedly cost the German authorities at least 10 billion euros in lost budget revenues.
“Warburg survived countless challenges in the last 200 years; numerous wars, hyperinflation and the Nazis -- you have to wonder why a bank with such tradition was prepared to participate in these kinds of acts,” Bloomberg cited Christopher Kopper, a corporate history professor at Bielefeld University as commenting.
A trial over the case has spanned several months, with two defendants, who formerly worked for the embattled lender, giving away the scheme.
Olearius, his son Joachim, who now heads the bank, Max Warburg and a slew of top managers are currently being probed over their suspected involvement in Cum-Ex, with the trial scheduled to finalise in late March, early April.