Zoom Image

Warburg Bank: The public prosecutor's office charges ex-bank bossOlearius with 15 cases of particularly serious tax evasion. The damage to the taxpayer is around 280 million euros

Photo: Axel Heimken/ picture alliance/dpa

The public prosecutor's office accuses ex-Warburg boss Christian Olearius of serious tax evasion, the damage to the German taxpayer is almost 280 million euros. The Grand Criminal Chamber of the Regional Court, presided over by Judge Marion Slota-Haaf, will hear the case of the former board member and spokesman for the general partners of M.M. Warburg Bank. Olearius will probably have to travel to Bonn often in the future – the court has scheduled hearings until March.

The district court has a central role to play in clarifying the-ex transactions, which have harmed taxpayers by billions of euros. A series of cases has already been heard in Bonn. It all started in March 2020 with two former HVB dealers. The two Britons were given suspended sentences for cooperating with law enforcement. Further proceedings followed, including against ex-Warburg managers.

Former tax lawyer Hanno Berger was sentenced to eight years in prison in May. He is considered one of the initiators of the-Ex construct. Berger was also convicted by the Wiesbaden Regional Court.

The Cologne public prosecutor's office, which is investigating a number of-ex cases, charges Olearius with 15 cases of particularly serious tax evasion between 2006 and the end of 2019, which he is said to have committed together with other parties involved. Two cases remained in the experimental stage. The court admitted the indictment to 14 cases.

According to the public prosecutor's office, Olearius has dealt in detail with the bank's strategies and has also approved-ex transactions. The banker has repeatedly denied the allegations. He had "made it clear earlier that he has nothing to reproach himself with, in particular, it was always far from him to have intentionally violated laws," a spokesman said in April. Olearius' defense lawyers had achieved a success in the run-up to the trial - a judge had had to vacate his seat after a request for bias.

Scholz was in contact with Olearius

The Warburg case also plays a role in federal politics. The Union had unsuccessfully demanded the establishment of a committee of inquiry in the Bundestag. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is accused of influencing the-Ex tax affair during his time as mayor of Hamburg. Scholz has repeatedly rejected this. In this case, the tax authorities of the Hanseatic city had waived a claim of 47 million euros on Warburg Bank. At that time - in 2016 and 2017 - Scholz had several contacts with Olearius.

Bankhaus Warburg did not want to comment on the proceedings against the shareholder Olearius. The focus is on "continuing on the path forward". With payments in 2020, the tax claims due to the bank's share transactions were settled, the bank explained. The majority shareholders would have paid the amounts from their own assets. "With the payments totaling 155 million euros, the taxes assessed by the tax office for the years 2007 to 2011 due to the so-called-Ex share transactions of Warburg Bank have been paid in full," the institute said at the time.

In the case of the-Ex transactions, the German state had suffered billions of dollars in damage. Investors had a capital gains tax on stock dividends reimbursed several times with the help of banks. To do this, they shifted shares with - i.e. - and without - ex - dividend entitlement around the cut-off date of the dividend payment. The cases had drawn wide circles, and banks and law firms are therefore repeatedly searched. The public prosecutor's office in Cologne alone is currently conducting around 120 investigations in the "-Ex area", which, according to its information, are directed against around 1700 defendants.