Nicola Sharp of business crime solicitors Rahman Ravelli believes that those who devised the investment schemes under investigation are more likely to be prosecuted than those who invested in them.
Frankfurt prosecutors arrested a lawyer as part of the Cum-Ex tax probe that is estimated to have cost the country's treasury billions of euros.
The lawyer, who is one of two attorneys under investigation in relation to Cum-Ex, was arrested as he was considered to be a flight risk. He is believed to be the former head of global tax at a major legal firm.
The arrest is the latest development in the investigation, which is examining allegations that billions of euros in improper tax refunds were obtained for investors by exploiting a loophole on dividend payments. Two former bankers are currently on trial in Germany for helping to arrange transactions that led to more than 400 million euros in lost taxes.
With many investment banks that were involved in Cum-Ex transactions now coming under scrutiny, one defence argument already appears to be that the banks were acting based on legal advice they received. The role of lawyers has formed part of the testimony in the trial of the two bankers and law firm offices have been the subject of a number of raids as the Cum-Ex investigation gathers momentum.
There can be little doubt that investigators will be taking an especially close interest in lawyers who were involved in Cum-Ex. It is likely that those looking to bring prosecutions are going to aim for the architects of such schemes rather than those who invested in them.
The sheer number of investors in Cum-Ex makes it unlikely that they will all be prosecuted. A civil settlement is a possible outcome for many of them. But the authorities will show a greater determination to bring criminal action against those they view as having constructed such schemes – and lawyers are likely to be among that group.
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