The Hamburg Attorney General sees no evidence of suspicion of aiding and abetting tax evasion by today’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and other politicians in connection with the Warburg Bank tax scandal. The public prosecutor’s office rejected a lawyer’s complaint against the waiver of criminal proceedings, senior prosecutor Mia Sperling-Karstens told the Tagesspiegel.

In February, the Hamburg lawyer Gerhard Strate filed a criminal complaint “on suspicion of aiding and abetting tax evasion” against Olaf Scholz, Peter Tschentscher and other parties involved. This has now been rejected as “unfounded” by the Attorney General’s Office, thereby confirming the point of view of the Hamburg Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Scholz was the first mayor at the time and denies any political influence on the decision in 2016 not to initially reclaim around 47 million euros that the Warburg Bank had wrongly received in capital gains taxes in the course of the Cum-Ex fraud.

There are no “sufficient actual indications for the suspicion that an alleged tax evasion by the Warburg Bank was knowingly or intentionally promoted by those responsible for the Hamburg financial administration,” says the complaint rejection by the Attorney General’s Office of August 10, 2022, which is available to the Tagesspiegel.

Chancellor Scholz is currently on a trip abroad to Norway and Sweden and had to face many critical questions about his time in Hamburg and the Warburg case at the federal press conference last week.

The question of a reclaim of capital gains tax – plus solidarity surcharge – amounting to 47 million euros for the 2009 assessment period, which was acutely posed in 2016, was an extremely complex process of deliberation.

Because the legal situation was still unclear at the time, there were also litigation risks for the tax authorities, including any claims for recourse by the Warburg Bank.

The difficult “mixed situation” was also confirmed in the parliamentary investigative committee by the investigating Cologne public prosecutor Alexander Fuchs, emphasized the general public prosecutor’s office in the rejection of the investigations against the then first mayor Scholz and his then finance senator Peter Tschentscher.

Fuchs testified there that the facts affected by the investigations by the Cologne public prosecutor’s office at the time relating to the cum-ex deals made by Warburg Bank were not yet sufficiently reliable.

Recently it became known that in the course of the investigations being carried out by the Cologne public prosecutor’s office, Scholz’s service emails from his time in Hamburg were also examined. In addition, the discovery of 214,800 euros in cash in a locker belonging to the SPD politician Johannes Kahrs, who is considered a key figure in the affair and who campaigned for the Warburg Bank, is a mystery. That had let the affair boil up again.

Scholz does not clearly answer questions about the role of Kahr and the discussions between the two of them on the Warburg case. When meeting with the Warburg bankers, he points out gaps in his memory.

It had already been determined in 2021 that Hamburg tax officials – and thus also their superiors – had not made themselves liable to prosecution when, in the exercise of their discretion, they failed to claim capital gains tax of 47 million euros from Cum Ex transactions for 2009 Warburg Bank AG to be reclaimed, senior public prosecutor Mia Sperling-Karstens told the Tagesspiegel.

So far, there is no evidence that Chancellor Olaf Scholz made false statements in the Cum-Ex investigative committee – he will have to testify there again next Friday. He met the Warburg shareholders a total of three times. Shortly after a meeting at the end of October 2016, the decision was made not to reclaim the 47 million euros.

His critics emphasize that this process in particular raises questions. Above all, that he called Warburg-Gesellschaft Christian Olearius shortly before making the decision and told him that he could forward a letter that supported the bank’s arguments to the tax authorities without comment.

In the end, however, the Bonn Regional Court ruled in 2020 that Warburg Bank had to repay everything for other years as well, which added up to 176.5 million euros with penalty interest. Scholz therefore argues that the state ultimately suffered no damage from the case.