Until a few years ago, the large law firms were considered unassailable for authorities and courts. The respect or fear was too great. At least in Europe. In the United States, the authorities have fewer problems with lawyers. Most recently, the lawyer Mark S. Scott was arrested in the OneCoin case and found guilty by a jury of money laundering and bank fraud. A long prison sentence awaits him.
Lawyers have contributed massively to binary options and broker scams in recent years. On the basis of their legal opinions, bogus companies have been set up, bank accounts opened, money stolen and laundered by small investors. These lawyers are contributors and should be punished. So far, however, the authorities have only been watching.
Now a partner of the leading US law firm Freshfields has been arrested in Germany. He is suspected of having contributed to one of the largest scams in Europe and thus made tax evasion and money laundering possible.
The arrest marks the first time that authorities have detained a suspect relating to a widespread phantom trading fraud that Germany estimates cost it more than 5 billion euros ($5.5 billion).
Of course, the presumption of innocence applies to the arrested attorney. “The imprisonment is completely unfounded. We will of course challenge it,” Werner Leitner, a lawyer for Johannemann, said. Johannemann is only one of 18 suspects, including another lawyer and former bank employees.
German Prosecutors have twice raided Freshfields’ Frankfurt offices over the past two years. They suspect that the law firm misled the state into thinking a stock had multiple owners who were each owed a dividend and a tax credit. Freshfields provided tax advice to bankers and other participants in the scheme that was used to justify its legality.