US sues Deutsche Bank over tax scam

The US government sued Deutsche Bank on Monday for creating shell companies that allowed it to avoid paying tens of millions of dollars in taxes.

US sues Deutsche Bank over tax scam
Deutsche Bank headquarters in Frankfurt. Photo: DPA

The suit filed by the US attorney in New York asks for $190 million in back taxes and penalties for an operation it alleged was made expressly to avoid taxes on a $100 million (€81 million) gain in the sale of stock.

But the bank said the issue had been settled five years ago with the US tax authority and that it does not understand why the government is pursuing it again.

The government said the bank set up three shell companies in 1999-2000 with the purpose of executing "a series of pre-planned transactions" meant to eliminate the tax liabilities on the sale of the stock.

"These shell corporations collectively served as an underfunded special-purpose vehicle with no function other than to be stuck with a tax bill that it could never pay," the Manhattan US attorney said in a statement.

"This was nothing more than a shell game." The Internal Revenue Service determined that the total tax liability, plus penalties and interest, is more than $190 million (€154 million).

In a separate statement Deutsche Bank said it would fight the case.

"We fully addressed the government's concerns about this 14-year-old transaction in a 2009 agreement with the IRS. In connection with that agreement they abandoned their theory that DB was liable for these taxes," it said.

"While it is not clear to us why we are being pursued again for the same taxes, we plan to again defend vigorously against these claims."

SEE ALSO: Legal fees lose Deutsche Bank €1 billion

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Germany cracks down on fake Covid vaccine documents

German police have set up a special team to fight a growing number of forged vaccine certificates being sold in the black market

Germany cracks down on fake Covid vaccine documents
People who are fully vaccinated can show their vaccination booklet, which has a stamp and a sticker inside. Photo: Ina FASSBENDER / AFP

Police in Cologne have warned of a group of fraudsters selling fake vaccination certificates, a growing problem the scale of which is still unclear.

The police said the fraudsters worked in encrypted Telegram chats, making investigations difficult, and were selling fake documents with all the stamps and signatures, including a mark about vaccination with BioNTech or AstraZeneca.

READ ALSO: Germany probes Covid-19 testing centres for fraud

The fraud involved both real traffic in fake documents as well as scams luring customers into paying €100.

People in Germany who are fully vaccinated can show their vaccination booklet, which has a stamp and a sticker inside. Those who don’t have a booklet get a piece of paper.

Covid health passes are currently being rolled out across the EU, with a European health passport expected to be available from mid-June.

READ ALSO: What’s the latest on how the EU’s ‘Covid passports’ will work for travellers?

Over 44% of the adult population in Germany has received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, and more than 18% of Germans have been fully vaccinated.

German police have said forged coronavirus vaccine documents are becoming an increasing problem.

Last month, a couple in Baden-Württemberg was accused of selling fake coronavirus vaccination certificates.