Cum-ex scandal: tax attorney Hanno Berger is about to be extradited to Germany
Düsseldorf After around ten years, the end of Hanno Berger’s exile in Switzerland is looming: the tax attorney accused in Germany will most likely be extradited after the beginning of 2022. With a decision on December 20, the Swiss Federal Criminal Court rejected Berger’s complaint against his extradition. The Handelsblatt learned this from judicial circles.
Berger is considered to be one of the main suspects in the Cum-Ex tax scandal, probably the largest case of tax evasion in the history of the Federal Republic. For many years, banks and investors traded huge blocks of shares around the distribution date with (cum) and without (ex) dividends. The only goal: the reimbursement of capital gains tax that has not been paid. The damage to the state is estimated at at least twelve billion euros.
The German tax attorney Hanno Berger is considered to be one of the key figures in this scandal. He advised investors, wrote appraisals and earned himself by brokering cum-ex investments. In an indictment, the Frankfurt Public Prosecutor’s Office called him “Spiritus Rector” in these deals.
In addition to the Frankfurt indictment, there is another indictment from the Cologne public prosecutor’s office. The investigators there accuse him of having been involved in the cum-ex activities of the Hamburg private bank MM Warburg. In other cases, Berger is accused. The lawyer is said to be jointly responsible for damage of several hundred million euros. Berger himself has always rejected the allegations and claimed to have acted legally.
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Hanno Berger left for Switzerland at the end of 2012. The occasion was a search of his law firm in Frankfurt as part of the investigation into the Hypovereinsbank. Berger had advised his client, the real estate entrepreneur Rafael Roth, on cum-ex investments. But the tax authorities did not participate – and the public prosecutor intervened.
Criminal proceedings initially began without Berger
Over the years it became increasingly clear how closely Berger was involved in the Cum-Ex business – right into 2011. From his exile in the mountain village of Zuoz, the lawyer vehemently defended himself against the allegations, but also emphasized himself want to initiate any criminal proceedings in Germany. “I am a man of the law,” Berger told Handelsblatt at the end of 2017.
When the first trial began at the Wiesbaden Regional Court in March 2021, Berger called in sick. The criminal trial began without him. The Hessian judiciary then stepped up its efforts to get Berger out of Switzerland. North Rhine-Westphalia also made an extradition request.
On July 7th, the canton police in Graubünden arrested Berger, and he has been in custody for extradition ever since. Berger lodged a complaint to get out of his cell, but failed before the Swiss Federal Criminal Court. Berger’s acts are not only punishable under German, but also under Swiss law, the court said in the decision.
Now the Federal Criminal Court also dismissed the complaint against the extradition itself. Berger still has the option of appealing the decision in front of the federal court within ten days. However, it is considered very unlikely that he would get away with it. Apparently, the two countries are already talking about how the extradition should work in practice.
More: The Federal Court of Justice has ruled: Cum-ex transactions were punishable by law