September 23, 2019 / 12:13 PM / 22 days ago

Denmark fines German bank $16 million in dividend tax scam

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Germany’s North Channel Bank has been fined 110 million Danish crowns ($16.2 million) by a court in Denmark for its involvement in a dividend stripping scheme.

The bank said late on Monday that it accepted the fine.

Denmark’s tax authorities have said they lost around $2 billion in the so-called tax stripping scandal that hit several countries across Europe including Germany, Belgium and Austria.

The fine marks the first court ruling on the scam in Denmark where the government is trying to recover the money.

The Danish state prosecutor said the bank facilitated fraudulent dividend tax payments worth 1.1 billion crowns to U.S. pension plans from which it profited by 55 million crowns.

The current management of North Channel Bank did not participate in the fraud but admitted the bank’s role in the scheme, the prosecutor said.

The dividend schemes typically involved the trading of company shares rapidly around a syndicate of banks, investors and hedge funds to suggest that there were numerous owners - each entitled to a tax rebate.

This created the impression that U.S. pension plans had received dividends and therefore were entitled to tax rebates, the prosecutor said.

“The bank (North Channel Bank) played an important role in preparing the documentation, which could be used to receive undue dividend tax from the Danish state,” the prosecutor said in the statement.

The Danish tax authority said in May it had reached settlements with 61 U.S. pension plans that will repay 1.6 billion crowns.

Additional reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Catherine Evans, Jane Merriman and Sonya Hepinstall

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