Frankfurt prosecutors arrested a lawyer who until a few weeks ago was a partner at
One of two attorneys under investigation in one of the country’s Cum-Ex tax probes was arrested Friday because he is a flight risk, a spokesperson for the prosecutors said without identifying him or the law firm. People familiar with the probe have said that the lawyer is
Werner Leitner, Johannemann’s defense attorney, said the arrest was “totally unfounded” and that he will challenge it in court. A spokesman for Freshfields declined to comment.
The arrest is the first in the country’s Cum-Ex investigation. The scandal has roiled several financial institutions as prosecutors allege bankers helped investors reap billions of euros in improper tax refunds from a loophole on dividend payments. In Bonn, two former bankers are on trial for helping to organize deals that led to more than 400 million euros ($440 million) in lost taxes. Investment banks relied on the clearance of attorneys to participate in Cum-Ex, and now the banks are using the lawyers’ legal advice as a central defense argument.
Johannemann and another lawyer at Freshfields have been under
Freshfields advised many banks and other participants in the financial markets on Cum-Ex transactions. The law firm’s role was mentioned on several occasions in the Bonn trial. Martin Shields, one of the two accused, on Wednesday cited opinions authorized by Johannemann that certified the transactions were legal.
The Frankfurt offices of the law firm were raided three times over the last two years. Freshfields has previously commented that
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(Updates with raids in last paragraph.)