Two men, Martin Shields and Paul Mora stand accused of taking part in what some people are calling the 'robbery of the century'. One academic who is privy of the details has dubbed what Sheilds and Mora did as "the biggest tax theft in the history of Europe". From 2006 to 2011 these two along with hundreds of bankers, lawyers and investors siphoned off a whopping $60 billion.
The entire $60 billion that the duo stand accused of stealing originated from the state coffers of European countries. One of those accused was quoted saying that taxpayer funds were easy targets because they are never-ending. The scheme that the duo run was based around the principle of 'cum-ex trading', which translated from Latin means 'With-Without'.
Cum-ex trades were transactions that produced two refunds for dividend tax paid on one basket of stocks. This process was repeated over and over again as the knowledge of cum-ex trades spread like wildfire. Germany, according to reports, was hardest hit having suffered around $30 billion in losses which were followed by France that suffered $17 billion in losses. Countries like Spain, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Norway, Finland, Poland were also hit but on a smaller scale.
The first Cum-ex prosecution began in Bonn, Germany in September last year and is expected to last until February. The German prosecutors plan on making am an example of Sheilds. Mora was indicted last December and will be tried separately. Both stand accused of costing the German treasury $500 million.
400 other suspects in 56 investigations are also being targeted by German prosecutors. Shields has not yet entered a guilty or innocent plea but reports suggest that he is cooperating with authorities in hopes of winning leniency. Mora, through his lawyers, has denied any wrongdoings.
(with inputs from agencies)