Six jailed in €300 million tax evasion scheme

A German court has jailed six men on for tax evasion in the trading of carbon emission permits through the country's biggest bank, Deutsche Bank.

Six jailed in €300 million tax evasion scheme
Photo: DPA

Three Britons, two Germans and a Frenchman were handed prison terms of between three years and seven years and 10 months by the court in the western city of Frankfurt.

The court found the six company managers, aged 27 to 66, guilty of evading about €300 million ($400 million) in taxes in Germany on carbon permits which had been bought abroad.

By buying the permits overseas, they were not required to pay tax. They then resold them in Germany, before selling them on again abroad to avoid the tax authorities, the court ruled.

Under a European Union trading system, limits are placed on the amount of carbon dioxide companies may emit and those that pollute less are free to sell credits to companies that need more.

The evasion, which lasted from September 2009 until April 2010, “cost the German tax office about €300 million,” judge Martin Bach said.

“An important instrument of environmental policy has been hijacked to become an instrument of personal enrichment,” he said.

The illegal activity was carried out through Deutsche Bank where seven staff members are still under investigation.

A Deutsche Bank spokesman said however that “an internal inquiry … found no indication suggesting involvement of employees of the bank.”

The bank decided in October it would temporarily forgo €310 million in tax deductions accumulated in the case although the judge asked the bank to give up the amount definitively


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Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.