oliver schroem

Journalism is not a Crime

Open letter following public prosecution proceedings against CORRECTIV’s Editor-in-Chief

In a joint investigation with 18 media partners we unveiled Europe’s biggest tax robbery.  Now the public prosecutor office in the city of Hamburg is investigating against Oliver Schröm, Editor in Chief of CORRECTIV on the suspicion of betrayal of business secrecy. We request the prosecutors drop the investigation against Mr. Schröm and instead concentrate on investigating the tax robbers. We see this as an attack against press freedom, and we stand against it. Please support us!

Open letter

Essen, 11. December 2018

Dear Minister of Justice Katarina Barley, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz,

In October 2018 we revealed in a joint investigation encompassing 19 media how bankers, investors, and tax advisers joined forces to rob European treasuries.

The unbelievable sum of at least 55 billion Euros was stolen. This is money from our citizens that should have been used for worthwhile reasons – for kindergartens, schools, care for our elderly.

We expect the prosecution authorities of our country to work hard to prosecute the guilty parties and to safeguard the treasury. But while billions still sit in the hands of thieves, the investigative journalists are now themselves under investigation.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office of Hamburg has begun an investigation of the Editor in Chief of CORRECTIV, Oliver Schröm, on the suspicion of instigating the betrayal of business secrecies.

Hamburg took over the case from the Swiss authorities, who started investigating on the basis of charges filed by the Swiss bank Sarasin.

Sarasin, which is deeply entangled in the scandal surrounding the stolen taxes, alleges Oliver Schröm abetted a whistleblower inside the bank in disclosing confidential information.

This accusation is absurd: Oliver Schröm did his job as a journalist and revealed a massive grievance in our society.

The attempt to muzzle a journalist and an entire publication is an abuse of criminal law. It is appalling that German authorities have let themselves be manipulated by these offenders.

Sir Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz,

We exhort you to join forces with your European colleagues in order to safeguard our treasuries from being plundered.

Madam Minister of Justice Katarina Barley,

We exhort you to drop this investigation of journalists and to focus on the criminals instead: the people, who stole our taxes in order to satisfy their own greed.

Tax robbery is a crime. Journalism is not.


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Background of the investigations

As Editor in Chief of CORRECTIV Oliver Schröm led the research cooperation related to the CumEx-Files. Beginning in 2014, he was one of the first journalists to investigate cum ex tax deals based on the review of internal documents. He thus came into the Swiss authority’s sight after the Swiss private bank Sarasin filed charges against Mr. Schröm. The public prosecutors office in Zurich started an investigation on suspicion of industrial espionage. Mr. Schröm speaks about his work on CumEx and its consequences for himself in this video.

In March 2018, four years after the start of the investigations against Mr. Schröm, the Zurich authorities requested the public prosecutor in the city of Hamburg take over the investigation. Now the Hamburg prosecutors are investigating the suspicion of “betrayal of business secrets” based on §17 of the Act Against Unfair Competition.

According to a representative of the journalist union Verdi, this competition-law paragraph is being used against a journalist for the first time.

For more details please see our press release

About the CumEx-Files

In October 2018, we revealed how bankers, traders and lawyers robbed the coffers of European states. CORRECTIV coordinated the joint investigation of 19 media outlets from 12 countries. Read the whole story here.

On November 26, the European Parliament invited Oliver Schröm to discuss the scope of the damage and present proposals on how to fortify the European system against such fraudulent practices. His proposals were incorporated into a resolution of the European Parliament.


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