German police raid offices of French bank BNP Paribas in Frankfurt - Handelsblatt

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BERLIN - German authorities searched the offices of major French bank BNP Paribas in Frankfurt as part of investigations in relation to the multibillion-euro tax fraud scheme known as "cum-ex," German daily Handelsblatt reported on Wednesday.

Around 130 public prosecutors, tax investigators and police officers were involved in the searches that have taken place since Tuesday and also included private residences in three German states, Handelsblatt reported.

The investigation is focused on 58 suspects who were or are professionally active for the bank, Handelsblatt reported.

BNP Paribas and German prosecutors were not immediately available to comment.

The cum-ex trading scheme, which flourished after the 2008 credit crisis, involved the rapid dealing of company shares around dividend payout days, blurring stock ownership and allowing multiple parties to claim rebates.

The scandal has blighted German political and financial circles, with lawmakers claiming it has cost taxpayers billions of euros.

A large number of banks have been searched by prosecutors investigating possible wrongdoing, with German branches of Barclays, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley among those raided in recent months.

Government officials say the investigation involves some 100 banks on four continents and at least 1,000 suspects.

(Reporting by Marta Orosz; Writing by Miranda Murray; Editing by Madeline Chambers, Alexandra Hudson)

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