Germany’s Deutsche Bank has reached a settlement -- reportedly in the tens of millions of dollars -- with hundreds of investors to whom it sold questionable legal tax shelters in the 1990s.
Deutsche hasn’t reached a final agreement with federal prosecutors and the Justice Department, but could face a criminal penalty of up to $1 billion, as well as a requirement to admit to criminal wrongdoing.
The bank had been vehemently fighting claims against it, and a settlement might be a sign that Deutsche could be on the verge of a settlement of a criminal case with the government.
Federal prosecutors have been looking into the tax shelters, pursing KPMG, which reached a $465 million deferred-prosecution agreement in 2005; Ernst & Young, which is still under criminal investigation; and the law firm of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood.
The deal announced this week covers about 340 investors, about half of whom filed more than 60 lawsuits against the bank in state and federal courts after the Internal Revenue Service had disallowed their deductions.
Deutsche Bank still faces some civil claims from investors.
Last year, German lender HVB Group agreed to pay $29.6 million to avoid prosecution on charges it helped KPMG sell illegal tax shelters that allowed wealthy Americans to evade more than $500 million in taxes.
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