Frankfurt am Main — A gigantic, years-long tax scam saw banks drain €55bn from national treasuries in Europe, a far larger sum than previously thought, media from across the continent reported on Thursday. The so-called “cum-ex” deals relied on complex tax trickery that allowed owners of shares to claim several times over refunds for tax paid only once on dividend pay-outs — effectively siphoning off taxpayers’ money into investors’ pockets. So far estimates of the damage had ranged from €5.3bn according to the German finance ministry to £30bn, according to press reports. But a joint investigation by European media outlets has concluded that at least €55.2bn were stolen from 11 countries: Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Finland, Norway and Switzerland. Reportedly conceived by well-known German lawyer Hanno Berger, the cum-ex method relies on several investors buying and reselling shares in a company among themselves around the day when the ...

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