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Lawyer to the Rich Made His Own $56 Million Windfall in Tax Scam

  • Lawyer removes disguise to testify at Bonn trial of 2 bankers
  • Controvesial practice led to $10 billion in lost tax revenue
One of two defendants, right, and an interpreter in court in Bonn, Sept. 4.
One of two defendants, right, and an interpreter in court in Bonn, Sept. 4.Photographer: Marius Becker/dpa/AFP via Getty Images

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.