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Allegedly defrauded the state of 280 million euros: Long-time Warburg boss Christian Olearius at the start of the trial before the Bonn Regional Court

Photo: Wolfgang Rattay / REUTERS

It is always an extremely euphemistic term that managers of the Hamburg-based private bank Warburg use internally for lucrative profits: These came from "tax-efficient" businesses. This refers to so-called-ex deals, fraudulent stock transactions in which capital gains taxes were reimbursed several times even though they were only paid once.

How Warburg top bankers talked themselves into it is one of the details in the indictment against Christian Olearius (81). On Monday, the trial against the main shareholder of the private bank and long-time boss began before the Bonn Regional Court. Olearius is the most prominent defendant in the-ex scandal to date. The accusation is: particularly serious tax evasion in 14 cases. The banker faces up to ten years in prison.

At the start of the trial with a planned 28 days of hearings, the Cologne public prosecutor's office presented the general part of the indictment, 53 of the more than 370 pages. Olearius watched this with a motionless gaze. Occasionally he tapped his pen on the table in front of him, as if he wanted to speed up the procedure.

According to the indictment, Olearius, together with accomplices, is said to have caused a tax loss of 280 million euros, in which he and his accomplices are said to have proceeded "division of labor". According to the public prosecutor's office, they would have divided the loot, i.e. the unjustly reimbursed tax, among themselves. Olearius is said to have familiarized itself in detail with the-ex business models and to have been continuously involved in all planning and processes. The defendant denies the allegations.

Judge dismissed for bias

Two former Warburg executives have already been sentenced to several years in prison for-ex. The bank has since repaid more than 200 million euros in taxes.

The trial also throws a spotlight on German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (65), Hamburg's former First Mayor. According to the indictment, Olearius tried to harness Scholz to prevent tax refunds. Scholz invokes gaps in memory on the subject.

In Hamburg, a committee of inquiry has also been dealing with the case since 2020. The CDU also wants to enforce such a committee in the Bundestag and, after the resistance of the federal government, has gone to the Federal Constitutional Court to prevail after all.

The judge at the Regional Court of Bonn, Edgar Panizza, who was originally planned for the Olearius case, has been dismissed due to bias. Marion Slota-Haaf is now presiding over the proceedings as presiding judge.