One year ago, a man calling himself Benjamin Frey appeared on German television wearing a fake chin, a gray wig, and thick glasses. His voice artificially distorted, the man told how he helped bankers, investors and traders extract billions from the country’s taxpayers -- and how about 50 million euros ($56 million) of that money landed in his own pockets.
Last week, the same 48-year-old showed up as a witness in the first German trial over Cum-Ex, the controversial trading strategy described on TV. The mask was gone and he had to use his real name before the five judges in Bonn. The man, a lawyer whose identity still can’t be published, was the first person to cooperate with prosecutors in the Cum-Ex probes in an effort to avoid prison. His account laid out how Cum-Ex became a money-spinning machine on an unprecedented scale.