Denmark charges two British nationals over 'cum-ex' trading scheme

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Danish prosecutors said on Thursday they had charged two British nationals with unlawfully obtaining more than 9 billion Danish crowns ($1.5 billion) via a sham trading scheme to make double tax reclaims.

The scheme, known as “cum-ex” trading, involved submitting more than 3,000 applications to the Danish Treasury on behalf of investors and companies from several countries around the world to receive dividend tax refunds, the prosecutor said.

One of the British nationals, Sanjay Shah, who lives in Dubai, denied any wrongdoing.

“(Shah) would rather go to Denmark than be a fugitive, and he would go at the beginning of any trial they have,” his spokesman told Reuters.

Acting state prosecutor for serious economic and international crime Per Fiig said the two defendants “committed cynical and meticulously planned fraud” and described the case as “extremely serious”.

The two defendants both face a maximum penalty of up to 12 years imprisonment, the prosecutor said. The prosecutor will not name the defendants until the trial.

The case cannot proceed without the accused being physically present in the court, it said.

The prosecutor has investigated the case, in which the Danish state was defrauded of more than 12.7 billion crowns, since 2016 in cooperation with counterparties in Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom.

The prosecutor has already seized more than 3 billion crowns from various persons and companies, but says retrieving the remaining funds could be difficult.

“The proceeds originating from crime are often paid out to organised criminal networks which distribute the money globally through clever systems. This generally means that it is very difficult or almost impossible to get to the money again,” Fiig said in a statement.

In March last year, two British bankers were handed suspended jail terms and a large penalty in Germany’s biggest post-war fraud trial of a scam involving large trades to get bogus tax reclaims.

($1 = 6.0484 Danish crowns)

Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Nikolaj Skydsgaard; Editing by Mark Potter/ Emelia Sithole-Matarise/Jane Merriman