UK watchdog narrows dividend-stripping investigation

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LONDON — A British investigation right into a buying and selling scheme that claimed more than one tax rebates on dividend bills, stated by way of Ecu nations to have siphoned billions of euros from state coffers, is now interested by 9 corporations and 3 people, a Freedom of Data (FOI) request presentations.

Britain’s marketplace watchdog, the Monetary Habits Authority (FCA), has been a part of the cross-border ‘cum-ex’ inquiry for seven years, despite the fact that the present scope of its operation – reported right here for the primary time – is dwarfed by way of sprawling fraud investigations led by way of Germany and Denmark.

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A German court docket this week sentenced tax legal professional Hanno Berger, purported to have masterminded some of the nation’s greatest post-war frauds, to 8 years in prison. It’s the highest-profile prosecution and longest sentence so far in a sequence of trials that experience additionally convicted British bankers.

Even though Britain was once no longer impacted by way of cum-ex buying and selling, a lot of the structuring and organizing of the scheme happened in London, in line with legal professionals and government, a few of whom grew to become to the rustic for lend a hand unpicking what had came about.

The FCA stated in 2020 that it have been running with Ecu government to analyze “really extensive and suspected abusive proportion buying and selling” in London markets that allegedly supported dividend stripping tax avoidance schemes in Denmark, Germany, France and Italy.

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The watchdog, which has fined 3 small brokerages a blended 2.9 million kilos ($3.5 million) so far, stated inquiries into 8 people have been closed on account of a loss of proof by way of mid-November. It has additionally discontinued an investigation into one corporate.

“We have now already completed a variety of results and we’re proceeding to growth the rest investigations into people and corporations to conclusion,” the FCA stated, with out naming the ones it was once nonetheless investigating.

The watchdog’s investigations are regulatory and feature interested by consequences for monetary crime keep watch over failings so far. It does no longer have the facility to analyze tax fraud, however can examine civil and felony marketplace abuse.

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Reuters may no longer resolve whether or not different British businesses are engaging in felony inquiries.

The Severe Fraud Place of job and tax authority HMRC, which would possibly prosecute such circumstances, declined to remark.


Cum-ex buying and selling, sometimes called dividend stripping, concerned banks and buyers impulsively dealing stocks of businesses round dividend payout days, blurring inventory possession and permitting more than one events to say tax rebates.

The scheme flourished after the 2008 credit score disaster when banks, buyers and hedge finances devised methods to industry huge volumes of inventory to money in on a now-closed loophole.

Labeling it “a collective case of thievery,” a German pass judgement on sentenced two British bankers in 2020. German prosecutors have since secured 11 convictions and govt officers say the probe spans round 1,500 suspects and 100 banks on 4 continents.

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Danish prosecutors closing 12 months charged 8 British and U.S. electorate and the Danish tax authority SKAT is one at a time pursuing virtually 80 defendants in London over alleged tax fraud in a civil case that facilities on Sanjay Shah, a Briton founded in Dubai, and his hedge fund Solo Capital Companions.

The alleged fraud is claimed to were basically orchestrated from, or performed via, British-based entities, Court docket of Attraction judges famous in a February judgment.

Shah has denied wrongdoing. His legal professional stated closing 12 months that he and his companies had acted lawfully and based on Danish tax laws in drive on the time. A spokesman declined to remark additional.

Sought after by way of Denmark and Germany, Shah gave the impression past government’ succeed in till Denmark signed an extradition treaty with the UAE in March.

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The 3 brokerages fined by way of the FCA so far – The TJM Partnership, Daybreak Agents and Sapien Capital – traded a complete of 121.2 billion kilos ($148 billion) of Danish and Belgian equities for Solo Capital and hooked up corporations between January 2014 and November 2015, FCA paperwork display.

All 3 brokerages certified for a bargain to their fines for cooperating with the investigation.

The FCA had additionally issued 5 caution notices to corporations and one to a person about imminent regulatory motion over cum-ex buying and selling by way of mid-November, in line with the FOI request.

One caution understand was once despatched in June 2020 to an unnamed former leader govt, in line with a 2021 Top Court docket judgment.

The person challenged the FCA understand in court docket and complaints were halted pending initial rulings within the estimated 1.44 billion pound case introduced by way of SKAT towards Shah and others in London.

($1 = 7.0672 Danish crowns)

($1 = 0.8207 kilos) (Reporting by way of Kirstin Ridley, further reporting by way of Marta Orosz in Frankfurt, modifying by way of John O’Donnell, Kirsten Donovan)



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