Christian Olearius: Did he know about the short selling?
Photo: WOLFGANG RATTAY / REUTERS
In the-ex trial against the ex-Warburg boss Christian Olearius, his defenders have rejected the allegations. "The defense is firmly convinced that Doctor Olearius is innocent and should be acquitted," said lawyer Rudolf Hübner in Bonn. He accused the public prosecutor's office of having conducted a flawed investigation and of using "the narrative of a gang" that had nothing to do with reality. Klaus Landry, another defender of the 81-year-old, called the assumption that Olearius had formed a criminal gang "absurd".
The trial had begun on Monday with the reading of the indictment. The public prosecutor's office accuses Olearius of 14 cases of particularly serious tax evasion, two of which were attempted. In essence, the crimes are said to relate to the period from 2006 to 2011 – i.e. to the peak phase of the so-called-ex transactions (file number 63 KLs 1/229). According to the indictment, the tax damage amounted to almost 280 million euros.
Criticism for alleged prejudgement
It is the first time that a representative of the top management of a bank has to answer in court in the largest tax scandal in the Federal Republic. Olearius is a personally liable partner of the private bank M.M. Warburg, formerly its boss.
In the argumentation of the defense, ignorance plays an important role. Olearius did not know about the use of short selling, and he would not have approved of its use, said lawyer Landry. Short selling is a central element of-ex transactions, in which unpaid capital gains taxes (KESt) were reimbursed and the state was cheated out of a double-digit billion amount.
The defense attorney also complained that his client had been irreparably prejudged in public. The fact that Olearius had been named as a separately prosecuted person in a Bonn court ruling against two British stock traders in 2020 and his confirmation by the Federal Court of Justice in 2021 was a judicial pre-conviction. "The principle of 'in case of doubt for the accused' is overridden for him."
Former CSU federal politician Peter Gauweiler also acted as a defender. He referred to diary entries by Olearius from the years 2005 to 2011, which were all in all "evidently exculpatory". In it, Olearius noted that the legal admissibility of the transactions had to be carefully examined. In addition, he had emphasized his compliance with the law.
Chancellor with memory gaps
In later diaries, the banker recorded that in 2016 and 2017 he met a total of three times with the then head of Hamburg's city hall and current Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD). In doing so, he tried to prevent his bank from having to pay back a lot of money to the tax authorities – the public prosecutor's office in the Bonn proceedings evaluates this as attempted tax evasion because false information had been made. Scholz has ruled out political influence, but has claimed gaps in memory about the exact content of the meetings.
Next Monday, the Bonn criminal trial continues, then the fourth defense lawyer wants to respond to the allegations of the prosecutor's office. On October 16, Olearius wants to express himself. A total of 28 days of negotiations are planned so far until March 2024.