It's Christmas again and the season of gift-giving is upon us. This story is also about giving presents. It is about a man who really likes to give presents, preferably to people who already have almost everything. In order to stand out, you have to put a lot on the table, dig deep into your pockets and maybe even cross a line or two. Our main protagonist succeeded very well, as will be shown in the following...

It's about money, a lot of money, stolen from the state coffers of different countries. About 150 billion euros are said to have been stolen in recent years, 36 billion euros here in the FRG alone. The talk is of so-called Cum-Ex transactions. Most people have heard of this kind of business, but few can imagine what it is, but in a nutshell it is actually quite simple. It is like buying a deposit bottle. You pay a 25-cent deposit, which you can get back once you've drunk the bottle. But before you get the 25-cent deposit back, you copy the label of the bottle three, four or five times and throw all these labels into a deposit machine. So instead of collecting back the deposit you paid before just once, you collect it several times. But with cum-ex, the deposit is a share and the deposit is the capital gains tax, which banks can have refunded by the tax office if they have paid it beforehand. These are not penny amounts, but large sums in the millions.

In 2018, these Cum-Ex transactions came to public attention in an entanglement that was so new. It involved the Warburg Bank from Hamburg, one of the largest private banks in Germany. Between 2007 and 2011, it had scammed about 170 million euros out of the state treasury with cum-ex deals. As early as 2015, the Hamburg tax office got onto the Warburg Bank's trail and in 2016 there were extensive house searches, including at the home of co-owner Christian Olearius. At that time, the auditors, at the bottom of the hierarchy of the tax office, wanted to reclaim the money that the Warburg Bank had obtained through its illegal business, until they were called back by the top management. A partial amount of about 47 million euros thus became time-barred - or was allowed to become time-barred - at the end of 2016. The current German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was the first mayor of Hamburg at the time and was still to play a key role in this process.

In 2018, more pieces of the puzzle emerged and a picture became clearer. For example, during house searches at Christian Olearius' home, diaries were found in which he described this period in great detail. For example, when things became uncomfortable for Olearius, he sought talks with Mayor Scholz. There are said to have been three meetings in total at Hamburg City Hall. So Olaf Scholz received Olearius aware of the Cum-Ex business he had been running and also knowing that Olearius would want to talk to him about it. While Scholz still appeared at the first meeting together with an employee and, according to the diary, behaved very defensively, this was no longer the case at the second meeting a few weeks later. At this one-on-one meeting, Scholz is said to have received a paper from Olearius, the content of which is not entirely clear, but in which it is said to have been broken down why Warburg-Bank could not repay the tax debts. About a telephone conversation about a week after the meeting, Olearius wrote in his diary that Scholz had said: "Send the letter to the Finance Senator without further comment." Finance Senator Peter Tschentscher, now first mayor of Hamburg, received this paper a short time later. A few days later the case was closed, which was then justified by the statute of limitations, and the stolen 47 million euros remained in the pockets of the Warburg Bank.

When the focus increasingly turned to Olaf Scholz, he had long since ceased to be mayor and was now the Federal Finance Minister of the Grand Coalition. In his hometown of Hamburg, however, the whole thing made big waves, which also resulted in an investigative committee being set up in Hamburg's parliament to look into Olaf Scholz's role in the case. The catch is that this committee of enquiry is working under the leadership of Scholz's party, the SPD, and in a parliament led by Peter Tschentscher, who is just as deeply involved in the whole thing as Scholz. The chairman of the committee of enquiry, Dr Mathias Petersen, is also an SPD man and even he is involved in the whole affair. On several occasions, the Warburg Bank donated thousands of euros to the Hamburg SPD, most recently in 2017, at a time when the Warburg Bank had already been under investigation for two years. Dr Petersen sat on the committee that decided whether to accept these donations. So if Dr Petersen were to do his job properly in the committee of enquiry, he would have to investigate himself. How much "neutrality" there is here can therefore be counted on one fingerless hand.

This SPD-led committee of enquiry is also the reason why, until the Bundestag elections in September of this year, only witnesses were called who were themselves involved in the whole story in one way or another and thus only exonerated Olaf Scholz. This is also the reason why Olaf Scholz was able to get away with his pathetic tall tales that he could no longer remember the meetings with Christian Olearius. Above all, of course, it served the purpose of not further staining Scholz's waistcoat as SPD candidate for chancellor before the election and absolving him of all sins. However, the file is far from closed and there are certainly still unpleasant days ahead for Olaf Scholz.

The Cum-Ex transactions, especially in this case, are not simply about corrupt politicians, embezzlement of taxpayers' money or other offences against civil criminal law - even though Scholz and consorts are certainly guilty of all these. Olaf Scholz has given money from the state coffers to a private bank, i.e. to a representative of capitalist finance capital, money which we all, with our taxes, have flushed into the state coffers and which has flowed to who knows where. It is not simply the greed for profit of a few bankers, but part of this system that such deals are done. Even bourgeois journalists who deal with the issue talk about the fact that there is obviously a political will for these deals to be maintained.

A truly beautiful story that is sure to stir up Christmas feelings in the gangster world in which Olaf Scholz is at home, and of which there are surely many, many more.

With this in mind, merry christmas, Mr. Chancellor.