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Hanno Berger on the day of his sentencing in Wiesbaden


In the second-Ex trial against former tax lawyer Hanno Berger, the Wiesbaden Regional Court imposed a prison sentence of eight years and three months. Berger was guilty of tax evasion in three cases, said presiding judge Kathleen Mittelsdorf on Tuesday. The public prosecutor's office had demanded a prison sentence of ten and a half years and the confiscation of assets. The prosecutors had accused Berger of having caused tax damage of around 2006 million euros from 2008 to 113 with so-called-ex transactions.

Berger is considered one of the spiritual fathers of the-ex fraud system, with which investors had a capital gains tax on stock dividends reimbursed several times by the tax office. To this end, they shifted shares with () and without (ex) dividend entitlement among themselves around the cut-off date for the payment of the dividend. Experts estimate the total damage caused by the-Ex fraud to be in the double-digit billions.

Mittelsdorf explained that Berger had not been the inventor of the-Ex structure, which had already been successfully implemented before him, mainly in the proprietary trading of banks. However, he had ensured their dissemination among wealthy private investors and offered them an "all-round carefree package".

Further verdict against Berger

Berger fled to Switzerland in 2012 after his law firm was searched. He had been extradited to the German judiciary in February 2022. The extradition detention already executed in Switzerland will be counted towards the sentence, said Judge Mittelsdorf.

In December, Berger had already been sentenced to eight years in prison by the Bonn Regional Court in another case. He had announced that he would appeal against this ruling. Berger has always stated that the procedure is a legal tax-saving model. But in July 2021, the Federal Court of Justice ruled that-ex transactions were punishable by law. In total, German public prosecutors are investigating around 1500 defendants for-ex share deals.

Two separate trials were conducted against Berger, as the public prosecutor's offices in Frankfurt and Cologne, which had each filed Berger's extradition, could not agree on a merger of the two proceedings. In Bonn, the prosecutors had accused Berger of having caused tax damage of a good 278 million euros.

There are still raids on banks because of the-ex complex, most recently in the Frankfurt offices of the Japanese investment bank Nomura and BNP Parisbas and in France at the major banks Société Générale, BNP Paribas and HSBC. In September, Deutsche Bank, together with Warburg Bank and The Bank of New York Mellon, had to repay 60 million euros to the tax authorities because of the illegal share transactions.