Luxembourg’s BCEE pays a fine of 14 million euros

The “Banque et Caisse d’Epargne de l’Etat”, also known as “Spuerkeess” will pay a fine of 14 million euros to German authorities. This has been communicated through a press statement.

This settlement is a reaction to accusations that the bank had helped German clients with tax evasion. Thousands of Germans are under suspicion. In its statement, the bank however denies being guilty and underlines that it operates according to all Luxembourgish and international regulations. The settlement with the German authorities is the BCEE’s way of avoiding that court cases could be initiated against its employees.

At the end of 2015, the public prosecution from Cologne and the tax authorities from Wuppertal had launched investigations. They had bought “tax-CDs” containing client data and started their searches. The BCEE came under scrutiny because a number of their German clients had denounced themselves for tax evasion.

German daily “Süddeutsche Zeitung” already reported in October that the BCEE wanted to settle for 14 million euros. At the time, neither the bank nor Finance Minister Gramegna wanted to confirm this sum.

Gramegna stated back then that the sum to be paid had not been determined yet. The bank now insists in its statement that the amount is significantly lower than what is usually the case in Germany. Thanks to provisions, there would be no negative impact on this year’s balance sheet either.
A good deal

The BCEE is not alone in this, the 14-million-fine it has to pay is however comparatively low.

German banks also present in Luxembourg had to brace for worse. At the beginning of 2016, Commerzbank had to pay a fine of 17.1 million euros. The bank’s Luxembourg branch allegedly helped clients with tax evasion.

The northern German HSH Nordbank had to pay even more back in 2015. The settlement with Cologne’s public prosecution was at 22 million euros. One of their subsidiaries in Luxembourg allegedly helped clients set up letterbox companies in Panama to evade taxes.

These numbers pale in comparison to other international settlements. Last week, Deutsche Bank paid a fine of 7.2 billion dollars to the United States of America. Dubious mortgage deals were at the centre of this affair.