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CumEx-Files 2.0

Titelgrafik Cum-Ex Files 2.0
Collage mit Bank-Türmen als Sinnbild für die Größe des Cum-Ex Betrugs
Titelgrafik Cum-Ex Files 2.0

CumEx Files 2.0 – The outrageous tax fraud goes on

Collage mit Bank-Türmen aus weltweiten Finanzzentren als Sinnbild für die Größe des Cum-Ex Betrugs
It is the biggest tax heist in history. Three years after the CumEx-Files were published, an international media collaboration led by CORRECTIV shows how taxpayers worldwide were cheated out of €150 billion. An insider reports on the cross-border deals, financial experts warn that the tax fraud could still be possible, and authorities refuse to accept responsibility.
Collage mit Logos der Redaktionen die Cum-ExFiles 2 recherchiert haben

CumEx Files
Story

He got rich with our money. Now he lives in Dubai. Some say he’s hiding.

The man who allegedly robbed more than a billion euros from the tax coffers of several countries now sits at a restaurant overlooking a lush green golf course. Outside, the heat pushes through the desert. Further back, the Dubai skyline rises.

Investment banker Sanjay Shah is here to tell his side of the story. Prosecutors in at least three countries, including Germany, are investigating him for so-called cum-ex deals. In Denmark alone, the amount in question is in the seven-figure range. But Shah says he’s not to blame: “If there’s a big sign on the street saying, ‘please help yourself’, then me or somebody else would go and help themselves”. Undeterred, he repeats, everything he did was legal.

Total Revenue Loss
(in billion euros, 2000–2020)

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The Cum-Ex Banker Sanjay Shah

Collage aus Luxusgütern, die durch Cum-Ex Gelder finanziert wurden

How does Cum-Ex work?

You can think of it like a scam for child benefits. Imagine a German couple has no children, but their friend from London is visiting with their kid. Although the child does not really live with them, the couple registers the friend’s child with the authorities as their own. When the British friend visits another acquaintance, that person also registers the child as their own. They go on to visit three, maybe four more friends in Germany — each of whom registers the child as their own.

When the British friend and their child return to the UK, the child is registered once again with its actual parent. But the German government does not know this, and pays child benefits to each of the German families who participated in the scheme. The stolen child benefits are then split among all the families taking part in the scam.

In the case of cum-ex fraud, stock shares are strategically traded between multiple entities so that on paper, it seems like they are all owners. And instead of child benefits, millions of taxpayer euros are paid fraudulently to each party claiming reimbursements.

The bankers take advantage of the fact that tax offices did not detect the fraud. But in the end, the money they scam is missing from other places. For the renovation of a kindergarten, for example.

Interview mit Cum-Ex-Banker Sanjay Shah auf Restaurant-Terrasse in Dubai
Interview mit Cum-Ex-Banker Sanjay Shah auf Restaurant-Terrasse in Dubai

The prosecutor who chases Cum-Ex Fraudsters

Spotlight Newsletter

Cum-Fake, a third variant of tax driven trades

collage aus banktürmen und bullenmarkt

Cum-Ex banker Shah allegedly needs nothing more than a printer

Cum Ex: Collage aus einem Geldregen und einem reitenden Cowboy

Leak to us

Authorities are slow in responding to Cum-Ex tax fraud

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Cum-Ex: Banks and hedge funds are always one step ahead of the authorities

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CUM-EX FRAUD
€150 BILLION

€150 billion have been stolen worldwide. This money is missing from countries’ budgets for environmental protection, education, transport transformation or digitization. Click on the graphic to see what they could have done with the money.

CumEx Files
COOPERATION

16 media from all five continents have investigated together for almost a year. Here you can check all the articles published within the CumEx Files 2.0.

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CumEx Files 2.0

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CumEx Files
PLAYERS

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CumEx Files
Chronology

Before cum-ex trades became the focus of legal investigations and headlines, they were the secret of a small group of bankers and lawyers who had been profiting from them since the 2000s. Click on any of the items in the timeline for more information.

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CumEx
FAQ

Cum-Ex – FAQ

What are the CumEx Files?

The CumEx Files is an international collaborative research project led by CORRECTIV. Investigative journalists from around the world worked together to reveal how a global network of lawyers, bankers, stock traders and the super-rich made huge profits from tax fraud. Our evidence includes leaked emails and business plans, expert opinions from law firms and more. These documents show how rich fraudsters swindled lofty capital gains tax refunds without having paid them beforehand. Those involved stole billions of taxpayer euros from citizens around the world, all while referring to the fraud as a tax loophole.

With its initial publication in 2018, the CumEx Files established the first-ever estimate of the cost of cum-ex fraud in Europe: 55 billion euros, stolen. The largest tax scam in European history. A team of 18 media partners across a dozen European countries spent a year investigating the leaked documents alongside CORRECTIV.

Three years later, the CumEx Files 2.0 opens a new chapter: new data leaks, new protagonists, new tax tricks, and a new sum: €150 billion euros. And this time, we worked with research partners from around the world. Under CORRECTIV’s leadership, journalists from five continents expose not just the cost of fraud, but also how little legislators and law enforcement have achieved in the fight against CumEx trades and bringing criminals to justice.

In the last few years, the CumEx fraud has become even more complicated and sophisticated. It has been upgraded. But so has our investigative cooperation, the CumEx Files.

How do cum-ex trades work?

Simply explained: Through a series of financial trades, multiple players get reimbursed for a tax that was never paid or only paid once. While those involved -- banks, companies, or individuals -- make a profit, society loses billions of taxpayer euros.

You can think of it like a scam for child benefits. Imagine a German couple has no children, but their friend from London is visiting with their kid. Although the child does not really live with them, the couple registers the friend’s child with the authorities as their own. When the British friend visits another acquaintance, that person also registers the child as their own. They go on to visit three, maybe four more friends in Germany -- each of whom registers the child as their own.

When the British friend and their child return to the UK, the child is registered once again with its actual parent. But the German government does not know this, and pays child benefits to each of the German families who participated in the scheme. The stolen child benefits are then split among all the families taking part in the scam.

In the case of cum-ex fraud, stock shares are strategically traded between multiple entities so that on paper, it seems like they are all owners. And instead of child benefits, millions of taxpayer euros are paid fraudulently to each party claiming reimbursements.

The bankers take advantage of the fact that tax offices did not detect the fraud. But in the end, the money they scam is missing from other places. For the renovation of a kindergarten, for example.

Are cum-ex deals and similar trades still possible?

Short answer: That cannot be answered unequivocally. Statements by prosecutors, authorities, tax experts and defendants indicate that the tax-driven deals are still going on. For Cum-Ex deals, a team from the ARD magazine Panorama 2018 showed that such deals are still being offered.

The Federal Ministry of Finance theoretically stopped the Cum-Cum variant by amending the law in 2016. However, Christoph Spengel, professor of economics at the University of Mannheim, believes that this change in the law has not helped to curb the fraud.

In addition, the Federal Court of Audit assumes that so-called cum fake deals - another variant of cum ex transactions - were still possible in Germany until at least the end of 2020.

One of the main players in the cum-ex deals, former British trader Sanjay Shah, who is under investigation in three European countries, says he wants to resume his business, which he believes is perfectly legal.

So there are many indications that the tax heist is still possible.

Documentaries

The Insider

CORRECTIV, 71 MIN

For the first time, one of the main defendants has spoken out in detail about the cum-ex machinery. He is a key witness in the largest tax investigation ever conducted in this republic. Deep insights into the cum-ex-complex.

On the track of the money

ARTE

The documentary accompanies the CORRECTIV editorial team as they research the Cum-Ex scandal and the AfD donations affair, providing unique insights behind the scenes. The filmmakers impressively show the role that investigative journalism plays as the fourth estate in political systems.

The TEAM

Olaya Argüeso Pérez

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
CORRECTIV
Olaya Argüeso is Editor-in-Chief of CORRECTIV. Previously she worked as a data journalist and educator while covering finance and the economy for the most prominent radio network in Spain, Cadena SER. Through combining her traditional reporting background with a newfound passion for coding, Olaya is working to bring investigative journalism to the next level.

Oliver Schröm

Journalist
NDR
Oliver Schröm is one of the founding reporters of the CumEx Files. In 2010, he established the investigative unit of stern magazine. Later on, he moved to the investigative TV program Panorama. He first reported about CumEx in 2014 for stern magazine. His award-winning work and his growing collection of files forms the basis for this investigation. He has also authored ten investigative books on intelligence, politics & healthcare.

Manuel Daubenberger

Journalist
NDR/CORRECTIV
Manuel Daubenberger is an investigative reporter and film maker. He works as a freelancer since 2014, mainly for the public broadcast NDR. The political scientist started to research Cum-Ex and financial crime in 2017 and has never stopped since.

Stefan Melichar

Journalist
PROFIL
Stefan Melichar is an investigative journalist focusing on economic crime and corruption at the Austrian magazine profil. He worked on the first CumEx Files led by CORRECTIV in 2018, and has contributed to many other cross-border investigations. Stefan is also a member of ICIJ.

Armin Ghassim

Journalist
NDR
Armin Ghassim is an investigative reporter and filmmaker at the German public broadcaster ARD. He covers business and finance, international conflict and immigration policy. Armin has won multiple awards for his work, including the Helmut Schmidt Journalism Prize.

Mario Christodoulou

Journalist
ABC
Mario Christodoulou is a reporter with ABC’s flagship audio investigative journalism program Background Briefing. Previously he has worked for Australia’s Four Corners and The Sydney Morning Herald, where he examined a range of issues including organised crime, terrorism, money laundering and domestic violence. In 2014, he won a Gold Walkley – Australia’s highest journalistic honour - for his work helping to expose a national financial scandal at the country’s largest financial institution, The Commonwealth Bank.

Lars Bové

Journalist
De Tidj
Lars Bové is a journalist and coordinator of investigative journalism at the Belgian newspaper De Tijd. His reporting focuses on crime and justice, the police, secret services, fraud and politics. Lars has uncovered several scandals in Belgium, some of which forced governmental figures to resign. He has contributed to ICIJ investigations such as the Luxembourg Leaks. Lars also wrote a bestseller about the Belgian secret service and teaches investigative journalism.

Lea Busch

Journalist
NDR/PANORAMA
Lea Busch is an investigative reporter with NDR/ARD. She mainly works for the political programme Panorama. Before her traineeship at NDR she studied media at Babelsberg film university and social and economic communication in Berlin and Paris.

Giulio Rubino

Journalist
CORRECTIV
Giulio Rubino is an investigative reporter and one of the founders of the Italian centre for investigative journalism, IRPI. He has collaborated with CORRECTIV since 2015. Giulio has received awards such as the Best International Organised Crime Report and been shortlisted for the Data Journalism award. Most of the people he interviewed for this project had never heard of CumEx. Instead, they wondered why he was suddenly speaking Latin.

Jonas Seufert

Journalist
Jonas Seufert reports on inequality. He can usually be found talking with seasonal workers fighting exploitation, covering parcel carriers on strike or reporting on undocumented caretakers in Germany. He became interested in CumEx because it, too, is a story of inequality: One where the bankers hold power over the state. Jonas also works for ZEIT and the Süddeutsche Zeitung. He won a Grimme Online Award for his work with CORRECTIV and was nominated for the Reporterpreis for his research on Amazon.

Jérémie Baruch

Journalist
LE MONDE
Jérémie Baruch is a data-driven investigative journalist for Le Monde in France. He has worked on multiple projects about tax avoidance and financial crime, such as the Panama Papers, the Paradise Papers, the CumexFiles and OpenLux.

Anne Michel

Journalist
LE MONDE
Anne Michel is an investigative reporter covering corruption and money laundering. In the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, she took interest in how tax havens impact the economy and their responsibility for global financial imbalances. Anne has contributed to many of the projects published by the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). Since 2018, she has been a member of Forbidden Stories.

Maxime Vaudano

Journalist
Le Monde
Maxime Vaudano is a data-driven investigative journalist for Le Monde in France. He has worked on multiple projects about tax avoidance and financial crime, such as the Panama Papers, the Paradise Papers, the CumexFiles and OpenLux. He is also interested in international trade agreements, private arbitration, EU policy and visual journalism.

Angelo Mincuzzi

Journalist
Il Sole 24 Ore
Angelo Mincuzzi is a special correspondent for the economic and financial Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore. His interests include judicial inquiries, tax fraud and tax havens. He co-authored the book “La cassaforte degli evasori” (“The safe of the tax evaders”) alongside whistleblower Hervé Falciani, and “Opus Dei. Il segreto dei soldi” (“Opus Dei. The secret of the money”). He has also worked as a correspondent in China, Dubai, the Balkan area, the Baltic countries and, in 1989, in East Berlin and Bucharest.

Jack Power

Journalist
The irish times
Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times, based in Dublin, Ireland. His previous work includes an investigation which exposed a cover-up of widespread historical child sex abuse in the Irish scouting movement. He was named Young Journalist of the Year at the 2019 Irish newspaper industry awards.

Annelise Giseburt

REPORTER
Tansa
Annelise Giseburt coordinates Tansa’s cross-border collaborations and English-language material. She has previous experience working as a translator and for nonprofits in Hiroshima, Japan.

Nanami Nakagawa

REPORTER
Tansa
Nanami Nakagawa is a reporter at the Tokyo-based investigative newsroom Tansa, where she has published stories on the Fukushima nuclear disaster and Japan’s tobacco regulations. She previously worked for Ashoka, the world’s largest network of social entrepreneurs.

Mariko Tsuji

REPORTER
Tansa
Mariko Tsuji studied journalism in university and has experience reporting for a leading Japanese finance magazine. Her coverage focuses on welfare and women’s rights.

Makoto Watanabe

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Tansa
Before founding Tansa in 2017, Makoto Watanabe worked for 16 years as an investigative reporter in the Asahi Shimbun metro area. Under Watanabe’s leadership, Tansa has broken stories on a wide range of topics and received numerous awards.

Laurent Schmit

Journalist
Reporter.lu
Laurent Schmit is an editor and partner of Reporter.lu, an independent online magazine for investigative journalism in Luxembourg. He writes about subjects at the intersection of the economy and politics. Laurent has a special interest in tax matters and Luxembourg’s financial sector. In 2019 he took part in the investigation „Grand Theft Europe“, coordinated by CORRECTIV.

Eric Smit

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Follow the money
Eric Schmit is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Follow the Money (FTM.nl), a Dutch platform for investigative journalism. In his prior life, he chased balls on squash courts for money but never won a big title. He wrote a few books that did well (so-called best sellers) and was named Dutch journalist of the year in 2017. He’s the father of two daughters (identical twins) who like him most when he pretends to be the singer of a rock band.

Knut Kainz Rognerud

Journalist
SVT
One of Sweden’s most experienced and renowned authors and business reporters. Since 2010, he is an investigative reporter at the Swedish public television. Moreover, Knut works as a senior commentator for the news department SVT Nyheter. Before, he was an investigative business reporter at Sweden’s largest daily, Dagens Nyheter. In 2004, Knut was awarded the Golden Shovel, Sweden’s most important investigative award. His documentary about parking fraud has been nominated for the Golden Nymph award in Monte Carlo.

Ola Westerberg

Journalist
TBD
Ola Westeberg is an award-winning Swedish investigative freelance reporter and editor whose areas of interest include corruption, human rights and international affairs. He contributed to two CORRECTIV-led investigations: The CumEx Files and Black Sites Turkey. He is also a member of ICIJ.

Óscar Giménez

Journalist
El Confidencial
Óscar Giménez is journalist at El Confidencial. After having studied Journalism and Economy, he specialized in finance, a beat he’s been covering for a decade. He firmly believes that more transparency about markets and companies contributes to build a better society.

Dewald van Rensburg

Journalist
amaBhungane
Dewald van Rensburg is an investigative journalist at the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism in Johannesburg. Prior to that he spent many years as a business and economics reporter at different newspapers. He now specialises in financial crime and is also the author of “VBS: a Dream Defrauded”, a book-length investigation into one of South Africa’s most notorious white collar crimes.

Theo Legget

Journalist
BBC
Theo Leggett is the International business Correspondent at the BBC. He previously presented the World Business Report on the BBC World Service and worked as the corporation’s Europe business reporter while based in Brussels. Among the stories he has reported on extensively in recent years are the safety failures of the Boeing 737 Max, the incarceration and flight of the former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn, the Greek debt crisis and the so-called ‘Dieselgate’ scandal at Volkswagen.

Gretchen Morgenson

Journalist
NBC
Gretchen Morgenson is a senior financial reporter for the Investigations unit at NBC News. A former stockbroker, she spent 20 years as business columnist at The New York Times and won a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for her "trenchant and incisive" coverage of Wall Street.

Luise Lange-Letellier

HEAD OF COMMUNICATIONS
CORRECTIV
Luise Lange-Letellier is probably the reason why you landed on this website. Starting as an intern, she now leads CORRECTIV's communications. Under her guidance, CORRECTIV has grown from a small editorial team to a medium-sized newsroom that reaches millions. To achieve this, Luise talks with readers, develops new narrative strategies and encourages thousands of people to support investigative journalism.

Benjamin Schubert

Head of design
CORRECTIV
Benjamin Schubert discovered Photoshop 18 years ago. Today, he is a media and communication designer and an all-purpose multimedia force at CORRECTIV. He has worked in publishing, market research, digital marketing and founded a coworking space for artists in Berlin. Benjamin's work at CORRECTIV has been honored with several awards such as the Grimme Online Award and the German-French Journalism Award.

Belén Ríos Falcón

Designer
CORRECTIV
Belén Ríos Falcón dove into journalism as a designer in 2019. She is bothered by the term “design” and hence tries to blur the boundaries between her work and other disciplines. In addition to her work at CORRECTIV, she collaborates with cultural professionals and start-ups, among others, to create more visibility for cultural and social projects. In doing so, she wants to use her skills to support positive developments in society.

Sophia Stahl

Journalist
CORRECTIV
The Cum-Ex deals are older than Sophia Stahl. Time to stop them. Her taxes shouldn`t end up in the pockets of the super -rich people, but in schools and kindergartens. Reasons enough, to take part in the international research and learn from experienced journalists. She studied Journalism and Political Science in Dortmund and Perugia. She is doing her trainee at CORRECTIV in Berlin.

Valentin Zick

Communication
CORRECTIV
Valentin Zick likes to talk a lot. That's what got him to the point of completing a Master's in Communication at the Berlin University of the Arts. At CORRECTIV, he has turned talking into a profession. He builds new communication concepts, explains why the CumEx Files are important and does a lot of talking to get people excited about investigative journalism.

Published Oct. 21st

Project Management: Olaya Argüeso Pérez
InvestigationOlaya Argüeso Pérez, Oliver Schröm, Manuel Daubenberger
TextOlaya Argüeso Pérez, Jonas Seufert
Design: Benjamin Schubert, Belén Ríos Falcón
DevelopmentBenjamin Schubert
Editing: Sophia Stahl, Miriam Lenz, Hatice Kahraman, Jonathan Sachse, Katarina Huth, Justus von Daniels, Gabriela Keller, Frederik Richter, Marcus Bensmann, Isabel Knippel, Max Donheiser
Communication: Luise Lange-Letellier, Valentin Zick, Maren Pfalzgraf
Translation: Kobalt Languages, Max Donheiser

Credits: Felix Meschede, ARD Panorama | picture alliance/dpa, Michael Kappeler | picture alliance / Eventpress | Eventpress Stauffenberg | picture alliance / Geisler-Fotopress | Frederic Kern / Geisler-Fotopress, picture alliance / Fotostand | Fotostand / Racocha, picture alliance / Eventpress | Eventpress Schraps, picture alliance/dpa | Henning Kaiser, picture alliance/dpa | picture alliance/dpa | Oliver Berg | picture alliance / Daniel Kalker | Daniel Kalker | Friso Gentsch, picture alliance / AP Photo | JAN PITMAN | TheTroothFairy (CC BY-SA 4.0) edited | Pittigrilliderivative work: Georgfotoart (CC BY-SA 4.0) edited 

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