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The CumEx-files.png
Date18 October 2018 (2018-10-18)[1]
TypeTax evasion
OutcomeLoss of roughly $63.2 billion.[1]
Countries affected by the fraud

The CumEx-Files is an investigation by a number of European news media outlets into a tax fraud scheme discovered by them in 2017.[1] A network of banks, stock traders, and lawyers had obtained billions from European treasuries through suspected fraud and speculation involving dividend taxes. The five hardest hit countries may have lost at least $62.9 billion.[2] Germany is the hardest hit country, with around $36.2 billion withdrawn from the German treasury.[3] Estimated losses for other countries include at least €17 billion for France, €4.5 billion in Italy, €1.7 billion in Denmark and €201 million for Belgium.[4]


The network stole several billion Euros from the treasury, through what Correctiv calls a "cum-ex" trade: The participants in the network would lend each other shares in large companies, so that to tax authorities there would appear to be two owners of the shares, when there was only one. The bank that was used in stock trading would then issue a "confirmation" to the investor that tax on the dividend payment had been paid, without it being done. "It’s a bit like parents claiming a child benefit for two – or more – children when there is only one child in the family." writes Correctiv.[1] This practice was outlawed in 2012.[5]

The name "cum-ex" is derived from Latin, meaning "with without", and refers to the disappearing nature of the fraudulent dividend payments.[6][7]

In cum-ex trades, shares with and without dividend rights were quickly traded between various market participants just before the payout date for the dividend, allowing traders to reclaim double the taxes.

Financial institutions in essence exploited a legal loophole which allowed two parties to simultaneously claim ownership of the same shares, therefore allowing both to claim tax rebates to which they were not entitled.

Authorities have since deemed the reclaims illegitimate, but at the time of the trades, this was less black and white, and a vast network of traders, analysts and lawyers were thought to be involved in the practice throughout the continent.[8]

The elite tax firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer gave tax advice which was used to justify the legality of the scheme. In November 2019, Ulf Johannemann, a former Freshfield lawyer was arrested.[9]

In May 2020, the European Banking Authority announced a 10-point action plan to enhance the future regulatory framework surrounding dividend arbitrage trading schemes.[10] According to the report, in some countries, the cum ex deals are not criminal offences.[11]

Danish dividend scandal[edit]

In 2010, in an audit report, the Danish Ministry of Taxation was found to have ignored warnings on multiple occasions of a legal tax loophole concerning dividend tax.[12]

In June 2020, it was reported by investigators that such transactions took advantage of European rules on the taxing of dividends, which made it possible to get refunds by using a combination of short sales and future transactions.[13]

Lawsuits in France[edit]

At the end of October 2018, the Socialist deputy Boris Vallaud filed a complaint against X for fraud and aggravated tax fraud laundering with the National Financial Prosecutor's Office [fr]. [14] A parliamentary information mission on tax evasion [15] of the National Assembly has also published a report on the results of the fight against cross-border malicious financial engineering. [16]


The Danish State Commissioner August Schäfer first warned of the practice in 1992, after the testimony of five whistleblowers. However, the practice remained widespread until an administrative assistant in the German Federal Central Tax Office noticed abnormally large tax rebate claims from a US pension fund.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Cum-Ex trading scandal in Germany – A huge challenge for financial institutions and the insurance industry". DAC Beachcroft. 8 February 2017. Archived from the original on 26 October 2018. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  2. ^ "Skattesvindel" [tax fraud]. DR (in Danish). 18 October 2018. Archived from the original on 18 December 2018. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  3. ^ Vartdal, Ragnhild (18 October 2018). "Norge rammet av europeisk skatteskandale" [Norway hit by European tax scandal] (in Norwegian). Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  4. ^ ""CumEx Files": la fraude fiscale à 55 milliards d'euros" ["CumEx Files": tax fraud for 55 billion euros]. Le Point (in French). AFP. 18 October 2018. Archived from the original on 20 October 2018. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  5. ^ a b Hill, Jenny (9 June 2017). "Germany fears huge losses in massive tax scandal". BBC News. Archived from the original on 13 November 2018. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  6. ^ Matussek, Karin (18 October 2018). "Santander joins list of banks in German tax-dodge crackdown". Archived from the original on 20 October 2018. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  7. ^ El Mokhtari, Mouna; Schirer, Antoine (18 October 2018). "CumEx Files : comment des actionnaires utilisent la Bourse pour arnaquer le fisc" [CumEx Files: How shareholders use the Stock Exchange to scam tax]. Le Monde (in French). Archived from the original on 19 October 2018. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  8. ^ Smith, Elliot (14 October 2019). "A landmark German tax fraud case could ripple through the finance industry". CNBC. Archived from the original on 15 October 2019. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  9. ^ Sims, Tom; O'Donnell, John (28 November 2019). "Former Freshfields lawyer arrested over German tax scam: sources". Reuters. Archived from the original on 25 January 2020. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 September 2020. Retrieved 6 October 2020.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 May 2020. Retrieved 6 October 2020.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 August 2020. Retrieved 6 October 2020.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 August 2020. Retrieved 6 October 2020.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ (in French) "CumEx Files": a citizen collective files a complaint with the national financial prosecutor's office La Tribune October 30, 2018 and November 6, 2018
  15. ^ (in French) Bilan de la lutte contre les montages transfrontaliers Assemblée nationale
  16. ^ (in French) RAPPORT D’INFORMATION DÉPOSÉ en application de l’article 145 du Règlement PAR LA MISSION D’INFORMATION COMMUNE sur le bilan de la lutte contre les montages transfrontaliers Assemblée nationale

External links[edit]