German chancellor denies involvement in tax evasion scandal

German chancellor denies involvement in tax fraud scandal

The charges tarnish the popularity of Chancellor Olaf Scholz, newly elected in December 2021.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz firmly denied on Friday, before a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the “Cum-ex” scandal, that he had exerted any “influence” to settle this complex case of tax fraud on dividends.< /p>

The German Chancellor, splashed by this fraud revealed in 2017, answered questions from the commission of the Hamburg parliament for more than three hours.

His message, hammered home throughout the audition? I had no influence on the Warburg tax procedure.

The Cum-ex scandal relates to an ingenious tax optimization scheme put in place by banks, allowing foreign investors to reduce their taxes on dividends.

Dozens of people have been indicted in the case in Germany, including bankers, market operators, lawyers and financial advisers. A total of ten countries are concerned.

Among the incriminated banks is Warburg in Hamburg, which should have reimbursed 47 million euros (more than C$61 million) to the German port city, but the Municipality had waived it in 2016.

The bank finally had to pay tens of millions of euros in repayments under pressure from the government of Angela Merkel.

Investigators are investigating whether political leaders – including then-City Mayor Olaf Scholz – pressured the city's tax authorities to stop collecting those taxes.

There was no political influence on the tax procedure, hammered Mr. Scholz, brushing aside suppositions and insinuations relayed according to him in the media.

The decision to waive reimbursement of the sums owed by the Warburg bank was reportedly taken shortly after a conversation between Olaf Scholz and Christian Olearius, then head of the bank.

Mr. Scholz, however, denies having pressured tax officials in the City of Hamburg, which he led between 2011 and 2018.

But new elements revealed in recent days put to hurt the denials of Angela Merkel's successor.

Several media have revealed that emails from someone close to Mr. Scholz had been seized by investigators and would provide potentially conclusive evidence about thoughts on the deletion of data.

At another SPD elected official, who may have played a role in the bank's reimbursement, investigators discovered more than 200,000 euros (over 260,000 $ CAD) in cash in a safe, this which fuels suspicions about possible occult financial arrangements.

Other documents seized would further suggest that Mr. Scholz, contrary to what he has claimed so far, did raise the subject of reimbursement directly with Christian Olearius.

On Friday, Mr. Scholz reiterated having met Mr. Olearius on several occasions, without having any concrete memory.

There was no preferential treatment for Mr. Olearius, he said.

The popular newspaper Bildpublished excerpts from Mr. Olearius' diary on Friday referring to a meeting between Mr. Scholz and him on October 26, 2016. He asks questions, listens without expressing the slightest opinion and without indicating whether he intends to act or not, would have wrote the banker after the meeting.

The opposition rushed into the breach to criticize the leader of Europe's leading economic power.

In Germany, there are still not many people to believe in the many memory lapses of Olaf Scholz, thus denounced Friday the president of the CDU and leader of the #x27;opposition, Friedrich Merz.

These suspicions fall badly for Olaf Scholz, who has become less popular than many of his ministers, less than a year after taking office.

Before a possible economic recession in the coming months, the Chancellor is struggling in particular to reassure the Germans, worried about possible energy shortages. energy this winter, especially gas, in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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