There will be no investigations in Cologne against Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Hamburg Mayor Peter Tschentscher (SPD) in connection with a complaint about the Warburg Bank involved in the “Cum-Ex” scandal. This was announced by the authority on Monday.
“According to the Code of Criminal Procedure, the public prosecutor’s office may only start investigations if there is an initial suspicion of a criminal offense,” it said. “These requirements are not met in this case.” The decision was made by the department head responsible for processing the criminal complaint.
In the so-called cum-ex scandal, banks and other financial players used a loophole in the law to cheat the state. Around the dividend record date, shares with (“cum”) and without (“ex”) dividend rights were pushed back and forth between several participants. In the end, tax offices refunded capital gains taxes that had not been paid. According to estimates, the German state suffered damage of at least ten billion euros. Several courts and public prosecutors have been working on the scandal for years. So far, only a few of those involved have been prosecuted.
The role of Hamburg’s financial administration in 2016 and 2017 is much discussed. At that time, today’s Chancellor Scholz was Hamburg’s mayor. A committee of inquiry in the Hanseatic city is to clarify whether leading SPD politicians had any influence on the tax treatment of the Warburg Bank during Scholz’s time as mayor. At the end of 2016, contrary to the original plan, the tax authorities waived a reclaim of 47 million euros from the bank. During interrogations as a witness, Scholz denied any influence as mayor of Hamburg. His successor, then Finance Senator Peter Tschentscher (SPD), also rejects any influence.
The Hamburg public prosecutor had already rejected the opening of preliminary proceedings against Scholz and Tschentscher after a complaint. The situation is similar in Cologne. The public prosecutor’s office stated, “In particular, the evaluation of the mailboxes seized in another procedure by employees of the tax office and the Hamburg tax authority and by Dr. Tschentscher and Mr. Scholz” did not bring any documents to light “that would allow conclusions to be drawn about the content of the conversation of those involved”. The “Bild” had previously reported on the decision in Cologne.