FRANKFURT, July 31 HypoVereinsbank, the German
arm of Italy's UniCredit, said on Thursday that an
internal probe concluded that the bank had conducted "cum-ex"
transactions, also known as dividend stripping, that had helped
clients avoid taxes.
The bank said it sought more information from former
management board members and that it had the right to assert
claims against certain individuals. No current management board
member was affected, the bank said in a statement.
"The results of the investigation suggest misconduct of
individuals in the past," the bank said.
"The supervisory board will now request from certain former
management board members a response on the respective findings
of the investigations," the bank said, adding that it had
informed tax and regulatory authorities.
A spokeswoman declined to elaborate.
The transactions took place between 2005 and 2008, the bank
said. None of the tax rebate strategies, which helped clients
avoid paying taxes on dividends, have been conducted since 2009,
the bank said.
A loophole in the law that enabled the strategy was closed
in 2012 and lawyers are divided over whether the previous
practice was actually illegal or just objectionable.
HVB has set aside around 200 million euros in recent years
in provisions to cover possible liabilities stemming from
possible liabilities. No further provisions beyond that amount
are expected, said a person familiar with the matter.
Other German banks have also been caught up in dividend
stripping probes, with public sector lender HSH Nordbank
saying last year it had set aside 127 million euros to
cover possible tax liabilities.
(Reporting by Thomas Atkins; Editing by Susan Fenton)