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German authorities charge ex-Freshfields, Maple Bank staff in cum-ex trade case

German authorities have filed charges against Ulf Johannemann, the former global head of tax at British law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, and six former employees of the defunct Maple Bank GmbH in relation with cum-ex trades, The Financial Times reported, citing people familiar with the events.

Frankfurt prosecutors charged Johannemann for his alleged involvement in a fraudulent scheme that caused tax losses for the German state of €383 million.

Johannemann, who was arrested by Frankfurt police shortly after his resignation from Freshfields in late 2019, advised Maple Bank for several years regarding the legality of the so-called cum-ex trades, a dividend-stripping technique used to avoid paying taxes, according to the FT. Johannemann was later released on bail.

The law firm was also named in the indictment as an "involved party" and could be penalized heavily if found guilty of wrongdoing, the report noted. Additionally, a person familiar with the matter told the newspaper that a separate cum-ex related probe against a current Freshfields partner is ongoing.

Maple Bank, a unit of Canada-based Maple Financial Group Inc., was shut down in 2016 for its involvement in the cum-ex scandal. Two of the German bank's employees were arrested in December 2019 in relation with the same case.