German prosecutors raid Commerzbank in tax evasion probe

Pens with Commerzbank logo are pictured at the bank's annual news conference in Frankfurt on February 12, 2015. (REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/File Photo)
Updated 10 November 2017
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German prosecutors raid Commerzbank in tax evasion probe

FRANKFURT: Germany’s Commerzbank has become the target of a tax evasion probe in which several current and former managers are suspected of evading 40 million euros ($47 million) in taxes via so-called dividend stripping.
Prosecutors said on Friday they had searched the offices of a major Frankfurt bank and private homes this week.
The bank involved was Commerzbank, according to a person familiar with the matter who was speaking on condition of anonymity.
Commerzbank, Germany’s second-biggest lender, said it was cooperating with authorities.
Dividend stripping, also known as “cum-ex” transactions, involved buying a stock just before losing rights to a dividend, then selling it, taking advantage of a now-closed legal loophole that allowed both buyer and seller to claim tax credits.
Frankfurt prosecutors, together with federal crime police and tax officials, conducted the Commerzbank searches on Tuesday. They included the offices of the bank as well as the flats of three suspects in Frankfurt and nearby Hanau.
The legal news agency Juve first reported the news.
Investigations into the use of such schemes by a number of banks in Germany have been going on for several years. The practice may have cost the state billions of euros in tax over many years.
Last year, Portigon Financial Services, formed from parts of failed German lender WestLB, was searched by prosecutors as part of a probe into allegations that WestLB may have been involved in cum-ex trades..
Last month, prosecutors raided the Frankfurt offices of law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in relation to a former client’s cum-ex transactions.
A number of banks have already paid hundreds of millions of euros in back taxes and tens of millions to settle disputes with German authorities.
Last year, German financial watchdog BaFin closed the German operations of Maple Bank due to over-indebtedness relating to the tax evasion investigations.
The Commerzbank investigation focuses on five current and former employees aged between 51 and 63, as well as unknown individuals suspected of involvement in the scheme to evade 40 million euros of taxes from 2006 to 2010, prosecutors said.
The investigation also extends to unknown individuals and trades in 2008 at Dresdner Bank, which was taken over by Commerzbank in 2009. Prosecutors said the volume of those trades was more than 10 billion euros, with a further 75 million euros in evaded taxes.
In a statement on Friday, Commerzbank said it had identified cum-ex trades at Dresdner Bank that it halted upon the 2009 takeover. Commerzbank also said it conducted a voluntary investigation at the end of 2015 into all trades between 2003 and 2011 that “revealed that there were cum-ex trades at Commerzbank.”
Commerzbank said it proactively notified the authorities with the preliminary results of that investigation and is cooperating fully.
Shares of Commerzbank dipped on the news midafternoon, but recovered somewhat to trade 0.7 percent lower at 1613 GMT.


CrowdStrike said to hire Goldman Sachs to lead IPO

Updated 20 October 2018
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CrowdStrike said to hire Goldman Sachs to lead IPO

  • IPO could come in first half of next year
  • CrowdStrike raised $200 million in June

NEW YORK: Cybersecurity software maker CrowdStrike Inc. has hired investment bank Goldman Sachs Group to prepare for an initial public offering that could come in the first half of next year, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.
CrowdStrike is aiming to be valued more than the $3 billion funding round assigned to it earlier this year, the sources added.
CrowdStrike’s IPO plans could still change, the sources cautioned, asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential.
CrowdStrike and Goldman Sachs declined to comment.
Sunnyvale, California-based CrowdStrike raised $200 million in June led by investors General Atlantic, Accel and IVP. Other major backers include CapitalG, an investment arm of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. and Warburg Pincus.
CrowdStrike uses artificial intelligence for its Falcon platform to prevent attacks on computers on or off the network.
CrowdStrike is trying to stand out from the hundreds of security startups that have sprouted in recent years, promising next-generation technologies to fight cyber criminals, government spies and hacker activists, who have plagued some of the world’s biggest corporations.
The recent crop of publicly listed cybersecurity companies have had a mixed stock performance. Zscaler Inc. went public in the spring and is trading 125 percent above its IPO price. Tenable Holdings Inc. is worth about 25 percent more than its IPO price. Carbon Black shares have been trading below their IPO price.
CrowdStrike was founded in 2012 by two executives who left security software maker McAfee, including George Kurtz, the startup’s chief executive.