Northern Ireland financier facing 10 years in German jail over £400m fraud
A Northern Ireland-born banker on trial over a massive fraud against the German state faces 10 years if convicted.
Millionaire financier Martin S (41), who is originally from Co Down, is being tried in Bonn alongside colleague Nicholas D (38) over a share trading scheme which prosecutors allege has cost the state more than £400m.
German media has described the case as "the biggest financial fraud trial" in the country since the Second World War.
Oxford-educated Martin S and his co-defendant are alleged to have run the scheme from a base in London's financial district.
If convicted, the pair could face up to 10 years in jail.
The German authorities say Martin S and others were involved in what is called a 'cum-ex' scheme - a complex form of financial arbitrage which exploits the difference between the value of shares before dividends are paid (cum-dividend) and after they are paid (ex-dividend), and the way that these transactions are taxed by governments.
It has been compared to parents claiming child benefit for multiple children when they only have one.
The case has attracted substantial attention across the member states of the EU.
According to the Guardian newspaper, the 635-page charge sheet in the trial relates to 34 alleged instances of serious tax fraud between 2006 and 2011, when Martin S and Nicholas D worked in London first as stock traders for Germany's fourth largest bank HypoVereinsBank and then other finance firms.
Martin S's defence lawyer Helen Schilling said that her client was prepared to "testify comprehensively" regarding the facts of the case.
"He will thus make a further decisive contribution to clarifying the facts which form the basis of the legal assessment," she explained.
"In doing so, he consistently continues the path he has already taken in numerous interrogations with the public prosecutor's office (in) Cologne."
Financier Martin S hit the headlines in Ireland some years ago when he and his wife moved into a house on Dublin's upmarket Shrewsbury Road bought for a huge €6m.
It was the highest price paid for a Dublin home in 2012.
The property was later extensively upgraded and expanded.
In 2017 the Irish Times reported that the wealthy couple had been ordered to remove security apparatus from their luxury London home close to Harrods in Knightsbridge.
Planning permission for the installation of the equipment had not been granted, it said.