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Comment on report about German tax issues

Swedish Television (SVT) on Thursday published a report saying former SEB executives are on a list of suspected tax criminals in Germany and that German tax authorities are demanding 4 billion Swedish kronor from the bank. Here is SEB's comment on the report.

The report on suspected tax offenses refers to a German lawsuit concerning a form of advanced securities lending, which previously existed in Germany, where the purpose was to recover tax that was never paid.

Here is SEB's comment on the information:

“The German authorities' review of this type of scheme is conducted as criminal proceedings, to which SEB is not a party. SEB has not offered or performed transactions in Germany or elsewhere, where the purpose is to recover tax that has not been paid. We distance ourselves from that type of approach. We also know of no accusations or criminal suspicions against SEB regarding this type of business.

Regarding the information that German tax authorities demand 4 billion Swedish kronor from SEB, this is an ongoing audit where the tax authorities examine historical transactions regarding repayment of withholding tax from German shares. SEB communicated about this in a press release on 22 December 2020, and the information in SVT's report is thus not new.

Here is SEB's comment:

“The tax audit covers transactions carried out before an amendment to the German tax legislation that came into force in 2016 and refers to withholding tax paid on dividends that have been repaid to financial institutions in accordance with the then generally applied interpretation of the law.

As we have previously communicated in a press release from December 2020, SEB is strongly critical of the audit and believes, with the support of legal analysis by external experts, that the tax authority's recovery is contrary to both EU law and German law. Furthermore, it is contrary to the practice that the tax authority itself applied until 2016. It is not SEB’s parent company that is the counterparty in the audit, but the bank's German subsidiary DSK Hyp AG which brings together the operations that are being wound up in Germany. Our assessment is that this process will take many years and require review in several instances.”

SEB's press release from 22 December 2020