In falscher Sicherheit

EThere are defendants who observe a criminal trial as seemingly uninvolved individuals for a long time and only speak up when they know all the incriminating evidence. And there are defendants who want to reconcile with themselves in court. Hagen W. belongs to the second group. On the second day of the Cum-ex trial at the Frankfurt Regional Court, the former board member of the bankrupt Maple Bank read out his multi-page confession on Monday morning.

Marcus Jung

Redakteur in der Wirtschaft.

„I want to take responsibility,“ began the 61-year-old banker as he started his statement, which he had actually intended to deliver much earlier before the 24th Grand Economic Criminal Chamber. However, a herniated disc and several subsequent hospital stays made it impossible for him to participate in the first Maple Bank trial, which ended in the fall of 2022 with long prison sentences for former Germany CEO Wolfgang Schuck and other bankers and stock traders. The criminal chamber, chaired by Judge Werner Gröschel, separated the proceedings against W., another banker, and two former tax partners from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Too good to be true.

In the second round, W., who was once responsible for securities lending and treasury at Maple Bank, gets straight to the point. In hindsight, the „German Pair“ strategy devised by him and the other defendants was too good to be true. He knew from the beginning that the profit from the Cum-ex transactions could only come from the refund of capital gains tax. „But the expert opinions misled me,“ W. reads aloud, without turning around – sitting just two meters away from him is the author of the mentioned tax opinion: the also accused tax lawyer Ulf Johannemann, who advised Maple Bank on tax matters for years. In retrospect, the accused banker thinks that a tax criminal law expert opinion would have been better for everyone. „Ultimately, I accepted that there was a double tax credit.“

After the initial ruling by the 24th Grand Economic Criminal Chamber, the tax damage caused by the Cum-ex transactions of Maple Bank amounted to 374 million euros. In 2016, the financial supervisory authority Bafin had to close the bank because it could no longer meet the high tax refund demands. Overnight, 220 employees of the financial institution lost their jobs. „The decision to engage in Cum-ex transactions cost the bank its existence and the employees their jobs and security,“ says W. „I deeply regret my involvement in these transactions and apologize to anyone I have harmed as a result.“

Seine Reue kann der Banker mit Taten untermauern. Mehr als zehn Millionen Euro hat er in die Insolvenzmasse der Maple Bank eingezahlt. Zudem überwies er 1,3 Millionen Euro aus seinem damaligen Cum-Ex-Bonus an die Hinterlegungsstelle. Weitere Ersparnisse habe er aufgelöst und sich bemüht, noch vor Beginn der Hauptverhandlung Wiedergutmachung zu betreiben, so der Angeklagte. In den kommenden Wochen bis Ende Oktober will er weitere 600.000 Euro an die Staatskasse überweisen.

Strafkammer will Anwälte als Zeugen hören

Neben verschiedenen Anwälten der Kanzlei Freshfields hat die Strafkammer noch einen weiteren ranghohen Mitarbeiter der Maple Bank als Zeugen geladen. Dessen Anwältin Antje Klötzer-Assion äußerte laut Gröschel allerdings bereits schriftlich Bedenken gegen die Ladung –  die Generalstaatsanwaltschaft Frankfurt hatte im Cum-ex-Skandal auch gegen den einstigen Bankmitarbeiter ermittelt, das Verfahren aber inzwischen eingestellt. „Für mich war das der Grund, ihn hier als Zeugen zu laden“, erklärt der Vorsitzende Richter Gröschel. Ein Aussageverweigerungsrecht besteht nach Auffassung der Kammer nicht mehr. Die Wirtschaftsstrafkammer will zeitnah weitere Zeugen laden, um ihrerseits die Planung der Beweisaufnahme abzuschließen. Der Prozess wird am kommenden Donnerstag fortgesetzt.

Editor’s note: In relation to the witness summons, the name of Deutsche Börse CEO Theodor Weimer was mistakenly mentioned in a previous version of the article. We apologize for this.