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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Court issues arrest warrant for fugitive bankers in Cum-Ex scandal

The accused former client advisor of the Swiss bank J. Safra Sarasin does not want to face the German judiciary. Now the district court is responding with an arrest warrant.

For a long time it looked as if a Swiss banker wanted to face his criminal tax proceedings in Germany . The public prosecutor’s office accused the former client advisor of the Swiss bank J. Safra Sarasin of having been guilty of serious tax evasion and professional gang fraud in numerous cases. Potential damage: 461 million euros. But then the defendant suddenly declared that he did not want to appear at the trial . He is innocent and will stay in his Swiss homeland.

Now the Bonn Regional Court reacted. The responsible 13th major criminal chamber canceled the dates for the main hearing, which was supposed to start on June 14th. In addition, the court issued an arrest warrant against the banker, which must now be considered volatile.

De facto, the banker evades the German judiciary. The statement made by his defense counsel does not change that. They had stated that their client’s decision not to take an active part in the criminal proceedings as a Swiss citizen did not create any risk of flight.

As a customer advisor to Bank Sarasin, the defendant sold Cum-Ex funds to wealthy customers in Germany for a number of years, including long-time AWD boss Carsten Maschmeyer and drugstore entrepreneur Erwin Müller. The exorbitant return ultimately came from the German tax fund. The funds calculated with the reimbursement of capital gains taxes from stock transactions with (cum) and without (ex) dividends that had not been paid to the state.

Cooperation or confrontation

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In several interrogations by the Cologne Public Prosecutor’s Office, the defendant had shown himself to be cooperative and also contributed a lot to the clarification of the facts. For this contribution, he could probably have counted on a significant reduction in punishment.

This is shown by the two previous criminal judgments in the Cum-Ex case: two British stock exchange traders were only sentenced to suspended sentences because of their educational assistance. The former general agent of MM Warburg Bank, on the other hand, is said to have been imprisoned for five years and six months. He was not very cooperative.

The current arrest warrant is now directed against a Swiss citizen. It is therefore unclear whether there will be an extradition. Tax evasion is generally not a reason for extradition in Switzerland , but commercial gang fraud is . It depends on how the Swiss judiciary judges the matter.

A similar constellation already exists in the case of tax attorney Hanno Berger. Berger is also charged with serious tax evasion and commercial fraud, and arrest warrants have also been obtained against him. Berger has lived in exile in Switzerland for many years – so far the German judiciary has not been able to extradite him.

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