The Berlin Administrative Court has ruled that the Federal Chancellery must provide information on confidential statements made by Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) as Federal Minister of Finance in the Cum-Ex affair. The court announced this on request. According to the newspaper, however, the decision in an urgent procedure (Az. VG 27 L 36/22) between the “Tagesspiegel” and the government office is not yet final. The Chancellery lodged a complaint with the Berlin-Brandenburg Higher Administrative Court. There was initially no comment from the government headquarters.
The dispute was about a so-called background discussion between Scholz – then Federal Minister of Finance – and several journalists in September 2020 on the subject of the controversial dividend business. One of the participants in the conversation at the time, a journalist, accused the chancellor of having lied. “We don’t know if what he says is true,” said the newspaper’s legal policy correspondent, Jost Müller-Neuhof, to the dpa news agency. That is why the request for information was made to the Federal Chancellery.
However, the government refused. From their point of view, the press has no right to be informed about Scholz’s previous activities as Federal Minister of Finance. The Chancellery may therefore refuse to provide the information requested about the process. In addition to Scholz, the head of the chancellery, Wolfgang Schmidt (SPD), also took part in the conversation in his function as state secretary for finance at the time.
The administrative court did not follow the reasoning, but obliged the chancellery to provide information about previous official activities of the head of government. The 27th Chamber argued that it can be assumed that the required information is available at the Chancellery. It is not a question of employees who have left the company, “to whose questioning the authority affected by the right to information cannot be obliged according to supreme court rulings”. Only the function of the two politicians changed after the federal election on September 26, 2021.
The Cum-Ex affair is considered one of the biggest tax scandals in German post-war history and is being legally processed. The banks and other investors involved had the tax authorities reimburse them with a capital gains tax, which was never paid. To this end, shares with (“cum”) and without (“ex”) dividend entitlements were pushed back and forth in large packages around the key date for the distribution in rapid succession until no one had an overview anymore.
The state suffered an estimated double-digit billion in damage. In 2012, the tax loophole was closed. In the summer of 2021, the Federal Court of Justice determined that cum-ex transactions are to be classified as tax evasion.