Former German tax inspector jailed for 8 years for fraud with his ex

A former German top tax inspector was found guilty and sentenced to eight years in prison on Tuesday for his role in a long-standing dividend tax evasion following a landmark trial in Bonn.

Hanno Berger has been accused by prosecutors of being one of the masterminds behind a fraud that led to the German government refunding billions of euros in dividend taxes that were never paid.

Berger, who was extradited from Switzerland earlier this year after spending nearly a decade on the run, was also ordered to repay 13.7 million euros to the German government, a Bonn court spokesman said. at the Financial Times.

Germany is one of the European countries hardest hit by the so-called “cum-ex” scandal. These “cum-ex” deals cost German taxpayers some 10 billion euros, according to an estimate by Finanzwende, a consumer protection lobby group.

Having achieved a senior position in the German tax administration, Berger later became a tax lawyer. Prosecutors accused him of announcing the fraudulent scheme to clients and of being directly involved in transactions that cost German taxpayers 279 million euros

The 72-year-old has been in police custody since being extradited from Switzerland, where he has a vacation home and where he fled in 2012 the day his Frankfurt office was raided.

While several bankers have received prison sentences in previous trials related to the cum-ex scandal, Berger’s sentence is the longest. Investigations by Cologne and Frankfurt prosecutors into the scandal focus on 1,500 suspects and 100 banks on four continents, including more than 70 Deutsche Bank employees.

Next year, two former partners at law firm Magic Circle Freshfields, including Ulf Johannemann, the firm’s former head of global tax, will face trial in a Frankfurt court for their alleged role in the fraud. Prosecutors accuse them of encouraging the fraud by issuing erroneous opinions on the legality of the practice.

Prosecutors had requested a nine-year sentence for Berger, who faces a second trial over different cum-ex deals in a court in Wiesbaden.

Gerhard Schick, a former Green MP who now leads Finanzwende, said the Bonn court verdict was “cause for great joy” as it showed that justice was stronger than “crime money”.

A lawyer for Berger did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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