CumEx Files

Focus on the CumEx Files

The notorious case of the CumEx Files can teach us valuable lessons about the use of technology to combat fraud and corruption. 

Published in October 2018 by a cooperation of newspapers from eleven countries, the CumEx files (CXF) refers to a media investigation into the biggest case of tax fraud in European history. For more information see

The CumEx case involves a strategy of tax avoidance called “dividend stripping”, which leads to multiple reimbursements of only once-deducted capital gains tax occurred in the past. This enables a company to distribute company profits to its owners as a capital sum, instead of as a dividend, which offers tax benefits if the effective tax rate on capital gains is lower than for dividends. 


The Games 

As an escape game, the group is introduced to the Cum-Ex files story through an immersive experience. As a video game, the player follows a similar story, with its decisions influencing how the narrative progresses. 

The Setting: a bank in the financial district of a large European city. 

The Characters: 

  • A “tax robber”
  • His or her accomplice
  • Investigators
  • Prosecutor

The Plot:

  • The story begins with the protagonist dreaming of becoming a rich and successful banker.
  • The “tax robber” and his or her accomplice develop ways to complicated financial tax fraud tools and make a lot of money. 
  • Meanwhile, the investigators collect incriminating material against the “tax robber” to put him or her under pressure. The prosecutor confronts him/her with documents that do not suit his/her earlier statements. During the game, it becomes clear that the tax fraud has grown huge. 
  • Finally, the “tax robber” becomes a chief witness and confesses the practices in an interview.


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