Hamburg prosecutors see no evidence to suspect Scholz in tax fraud scandal

FILE PHOTO: German chancellor Scholz holds summer news conference in Berlin
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BERLIN (Reuters) - German prosecutors in Hamburg said on Tuesday they have so far seen no reason to investigate Chancellor Olaf Scholz whom lawyers have accused of aiding and abetting tax evasion in connection with one of Germany's biggest fraud investigations.

A spokesperson for the general prosecutor confirmed German media reports, including in Tagesspiegel daily and broadcaster n-tv, that the office had rejected a legal complaint made in February seeking to open criminal proceedings against Scholz.

"The reports (that there is no evidence so far) are correct," said a spokesperson, adding, however, that no decision on this had been made in the last few days.

Scholz has faced growing scrutiny in connection with the long-running "cum-ex" scandal, which dates back to his time as mayor of the northern port city of Hamburg.

The scandal is Germany's biggest post-war fraud involving a share-trading scheme that the authorities say cost taxpayers billions of euros.

The practice being investigated, known as cum-ex, typically involved trading company shares rapidly around a syndicate of banks, investors and hedge funds to create the impression of numerous owners, each of whom was entitled to a tax rebate.

Questioned about his role last week, Scholz denied any impropriety and said he had no knowledge of how more than 200,000 euros was reportedly found in the safe of a party colleague.

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)