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Hanno Berger in court (2022): He faces a maximum of 15 years in prison

Photo: Oliver Berg/dpa

He was once considered a star lawyer and architect of cum-ex tax deals - now Hanno Berger has suffered another defeat in court.

The convicted lawyer failed in his appeal to the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe.

The court did not even accept it for a decision.

The first chamber of the second Senate in Karlsruhe decided that the complaint was “already inadmissible because it (...) was not adequately justified.”

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  • Tax fraudster: Convicted cum-ex mastermind Berger fails before the Federal Court of Justice

The tax lawyer has thus lost his fight against a long prison sentence for serious tax evasion.

With his constitutional complaint, Berger objected to the earlier rejection of his appeal.

In December 2022, the Bonn regional court sentenced Berger to eight years in prison and to repay 13.7 million euros for three cases of particularly serious tax evasion.

His appeal, however, failed before the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) in the fall, and the judgment is legally binding.

The Federal Constitutional Court said that Berger had claimed a violation of his fundamental procedural right to a fair trial.

However, there is a lack of “an adequate explanation of the constitutional standards.”

The court also did not accept the argument that the challenged decisions violated his fundamental procedural right to be heard.

A violation of the right to the legal judge was also not sufficiently demonstrated.

Second judgment not yet final

Regardless of the Bonn verdict, the Wiesbaden regional court imposed a prison sentence of eight years and three months on Berger in May 2023 for other cum-ex cases.

The verdict is not yet final, Berger is defending himself against it.

If the Wiesbaden judgment also becomes final, both judgments can be offset.

This means that Berger faces a maximum of 15 years in prison, but in reality it is likely to be significantly less.

Berger is considered to be the pioneer of cum-ex deals being carried out on a large scale.

Berger praised the deals with banks and the rich as legally secure tax optimization, advised on the construction and earned millions from it.

Berger later fled justice to Switzerland until he was extradited to Germany in February 2022.

In the tax deals, which peaked between 2006 and 2011, shares with and without dividend claims were moved back and forth between investors.

At the end of the confusion, the tax authorities refunded taxes that had not been paid.

It is estimated that the Cum-ex actors defrauded the state of a total of at least ten billion euros.

The banks and lawyers involved had always cited a legal loophole in the transactions, and the loophole was closed in 2012.

In 2021, the Federal Court of Justice decided that cum-ex transactions should be viewed as tax evasion.

Since then there have been numerous proceedings against those involved.

Christian Olearius, the former head of the Hamburg Warburg Bank, is currently on trial in Bonn for cum-ex transactions.

Most recently, in Frankfurt am Main, a tax lawyer from a major law firm was prosecuted for the first time for his role as an advisor in the cum-ex complex.