From 2006 onwards, anyone who earned "good money" with-ex transactions in Germany knew one colour in particular: grey. Bankers, stock traders, short sellers and lawyers like Hanno Berger knew that it was not a matter of right, lawful things for a taxpayer to be reimbursed several times by the state for a capital gains tax paid only once.

But Hanno Berger persisted in this grey area, which did not offer him the permitted leeway that the former tax official insisted on incorrigibly. At the latest with the Federal Court of Justice ruling in the summer of 2021, which-ex evaluated as a hard-hitting "grip on the state treasury", he should have shown insight. Finally show his true colours: This might have spared him, already over 70 years old and in poor health, the hardships of extradition and pre-trial detention.

Total sentence of up to 15 years

Because he held on to his positions until the end, Berger had to reckon with the full severity of the rule of law. The sentence from Wiesbaden is only an intermediate stage. If you add the earlier verdict from Bonn, Berger expects up to 15 years in prison in the event of a subsequent total sentence.

It is the maximum sentence for someone who once had many doors open to the executive offices of the Republic. Berger was a key figure, but his conviction is far from the end of the-ex scandal. It will be years before the last profiteers are held accountable.