Thomas Schäfer made his feelings pretty clear when Commerzbank, Germany’s second largest bank, hit the headlines back in May for all the wrong reasons.
“In my opinion, these deals are purely a tax trick at the expense of society,” the finance minister of the German state of Hesse said.
He was talking about Commerzbank’s involvement in a form of dividend stripping that allowed foreign investors to escape paying capital gains taxes – a practice that reportedly costs Berlin hundreds of millions of euros a year.
And yet, today, it seems Commerzbank can relax. Fiscal authorities in Mr. Schäfer’s state have effectively granted the bank, and many other institutions that took part in such deals, a license to continue engaging in these controversial activities.