GERMAN prosecutors have searched over a dozen offices and homes across the country as part of their investigation into a massive tax fraud going back more than a decade officials said.

The scheme involved so-called cum-ex transaction in which participants would lend each other shares so they could collect reimbursement for taxes they hadn't paid, costing taxpayers across Europe billions of euros [dollars].

Frankfurt prosecutors said about 170 officers raided 19 premises in four German states Tuesday. In total, German authorities are 10 separate investigations into cum-ex schemes, some of which involved bank employees.

After it was discovered local authorities closed legal loopholes that had made the scheme possible.

Separately, a court in Switzerland just recently, convicted a former employee of Swiss Private Bank  Sarasin of passing passing confidential client information to a journalist - blowing the lid on the cum-ex tax scheme.

The defendant, a German citizen, was sentenced to 13 months in prison and a fine of 20,400 Swiss Francs [$19,960], suspended for two years, for ''economic espionage'' and attempted harassment, according to a statement by the Zurich regional court.

A German lawyer who used the documents in a civil case was acquitted of economic espionage. But the Zurich court found him guilty of inciting others to break Swiss banking law and sentenced him to a fine of 165,600 Swiss Francs, suspended for two years.

A third defendant, who also worked for Bank Sarasin, was also found guilty of incitement and sentenced to a suspended fine of 129,600 Swiss Francs.

The verdicts can be appealed. [Agencies].


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