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LIECHTENSTEIN

New CD on German tax dodgers surfaces

Another CD packed with evidence of German tax evasion on money totalling €500 million has been spirited out of a bank in Liechtenstein and is being offered to investigators, media reported Thursday.

New CD on German tax dodgers surfaces
Photo: DPA

The data was offered to tax authorities in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein months ago. The CD contains details of hundreds of Germans suspected of hiding taxable money in accounts at the Liechtensteinische Landesbank (LLB), daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.

The data saved on the CD concerns money totalling €500 million, the paper reported.

Liechtensteinische Landesbank is the second-largest bank in the tiny – and very wealthy – alpine principality of Liechtenstein, whose only major industry is banking.

Like neighbouring Switzerland from which another notorious CD was bought by German authorities earlier this year, Liechtenstein has long been regarded as a tax haven.

The data is believed to be recent, and the state government in Kiel, the capital of Schleswig-Holstein, is believed to be interested in buying it after conducting spot-tests to see if it is genuine. It has already spoken to the federal Finance Ministry about the matter, but a final decision is yet to be made.

If a deal goes ahead, it would be the second time Germany has bought stolen information from Liechtenstein. In 2008, the German secret service handed over €5 million for the names of hundreds of German business executives, sports stars and entertainers allegedly hiding some €4 billion.

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TAX EVASION

German police make nationwide raids over tax fraud

German prosecutors confirmed Thursday they raided 19 separate locations across the country as part of a massive investigation into so-called "cum-ex" tax fraud.

German police make nationwide raids over tax fraud
Germany's official 'Elster' online tax declaration. Photo: DPA

Frankfurt's public prosecutors office said 181 investigators and tax officials raided 19 offices and private homes located across the states of Hessen, Lower Saxony, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria on Tuesday, in an operation relating to three separate cases.

The raids are linked to seven individuals suspected of fraud to the tune of 50 million between 2007 and 2011.

So-called “cum-ex” share deals involved multiple cooperating participants exchanging stock in companies amongst themselves around dividend day.

SEE ALSO: Germany calls to 'turn up heat' on financial crimes

Complex changes of ownership allowed them to claim tax rebates on a single payout several times over before sharing out the proceeds.

Used across Europe, this practice cost Germany 7.2 billion, Denmark 1.7 billion and Belgium 201 million since 2001, according to an investigation published last October.

German lawyer Hanno Berger, identified as the mastermind of the scam, has been awaiting trial since last May, along with five former employees of Hypovereinsbank, a subsidiary of Unicredit.

Hypovereinsbank has already agreed to repay 113 million to German tax authorities and pay a fine of €5 million.

Since 2012, Frankfurt prosecutors have launched 10 investigations based on the same kind of fraud involving a total of 815 million in lost tax, of which more than half has been recovered.

As part of the investigation in Germany, several banks have been raided in the past, including Deutsche Bank, which is not in itself under investigation, but several of its former employees are involved in the “cum-ex” affair.

In the sprawling investigation, the German offices of BlackRock, one of the largest asset managers in the world, were also raided last November.

SEE ALSO: Over 1,000 Germans face HSBC tax prosecutions

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