They have been called “the men who plundered Europe”: a group of #CowboyTraders , #SeasonedTaxLawyers and #MathematicalWhizzKids who are alleged to have conspired in the heart of the City of London to siphon at least €60bn in #taxpayers ’ money from the state coffers of several EU countries.
In Britain, the so-called “cum-ex” scandal, named after the complex derivatives #juggling act employed, gained little attention amid the frenzied debate around the UK’s departure from the European Union when the #fraud scheme was discovered in 2017.
But in continental Europe what Le Monde has described as the “ #RobberyOfTheCentury ” has done almost as much to shape the view of Britain as Brexit itself. Dutch media has called it “ #OrganisedCrimeInPinstripeSuits ” and one of the original German whistleblowers saying he now welcomes Britain’s exit from the EU in the hope it could weaken the influence of London investment banking on European financial institutions.
This week, a British #FormerInvestmentBanker involved in developing the scheme for the first time gave the public an #insight into how the scheme worked and what spurred on its architects.
Speaking at a regional court in Bonn, #MartinShields , one of two former bankers on trial for 34 instances of serious tax fraud between 2006 and 2011, painted a picture of a London banking scene which lured in the #BrightestScientists from the country’s top universities and used them to boost their #ProfitMargins – without teaching them about the moral and legal consequences of their actions in return. “This was the environment at that time: a financial industry that – at least as far as I could see – was geared towards maximum profit optimisation,” the 41-year-old told a packed courtroom on Wednesday. “One tool to achieve this goal was #TaxOptimisation : avoiding taxation as far as possible – and taking advantage of any opportunities that could be found or created. This was not the clandestine approach of a few. Rather, I saw it as the clear and openly communicated expectation of most major banks and their #customers .” Hailed as a maths #prodigy at school, Shields accepted a junior position at #MerrillLynch .... ⬇️