As Hamburg’s mayor, Olaf Scholz meets with the shareholders of the Warburg Bank, which is involved in the cum-ex scandal. He reported about it in the Bundestag before nine months later he suddenly couldn’t remember. Can happen, the prosecutors find.

The Hamburg Public Prosecutor’s Office sees no initial suspicion against Chancellor Olaf Scholz for making false statements in connection with cum-ex transactions by Hamburg’s Warburg Bank. With the decision, she confirmed an identical decision by the public prosecutor’s office from December last year. The background is an ad by the renowned criminal lawyer Gerhard Strate, who accuses Scholz of having given different information about his memory in the Bundestag Finance Committee and in the Parliamentary Investigation Committee (PUA) of the Hamburg Parliament.

It is about meetings between Scholz and the shareholders of the Warburg Bank, which was involved in the cum-ex scandal, during his time as Hamburg mayor in 2016 and 2017. According to Strate, the minutes of the Bundestag that have now been made public show that Scholz was in surveys in March and July 2020 in the Finance Committee was able to recall the contents of a meeting. In April 2021, Scholz then stated during his first interrogation in front of the Hamburg PUA that he could not remember the meeting at all.

One had come to the conclusion “that no specific memory of the affected Scholz can be derived from the relevant protocols either,” said the public prosecutor’s office. The statements he made in indirect speech are “objectively ambiguous” and are largely based on findings from media reports and published diary entries by Warburg shareholder Christian Olearius. In addition, it cannot be ruled out that the memory gaps that Scholz referred to in the PUA only became apparent after his statements in the finance committee.

The PUA will deal with Scholz’ statements before the Bundestag Finance Committee in April. 38 participants who were present at the time were then invited as witnesses in two sessions. In cum-ex transactions, blocks of shares were shifted back and forth by several participants around the dividend record date with (“cum”) and without (“ex”) a right to a dividend. As a result, tax offices reimbursed capital gains taxes that had not been paid at all. The state suffered billions in damage.