Executives, managers, and shareholders of German travel portal Unister -- a travel industry player on the level of vacation companies like Thomas Cook, TUI, and Kuoni -- have been facing legal troubles since the end of 2012, with its two founders at odds.
A Dresden public prosecutor has been investigating some employees for tax evasion. Perhaps the most sensational moment came when there were searches of Unister offices in front of TV cameras and prosecutors publicized allegations of so-called "computer fraud", which according to the company, will not withstand scrutiny in court.
Another charge that has been leveled is about the sale of rebooking services and whether they should have been taxed as insurance policies. (The company denies any wrongdoing.)
Recently the first procecution (about taxes and insurance) has been mostly approved by the legal machinery. In a statement this week, Thomas Wagner, founder and CEO of Unister Holding, said:
"We are pleased to finally be able to evaluate and comment on the results of extensive investigations by the Special Commission INES against our company."
His case is likely heading to court.
In a statement this week, the company said, "The judiciary alleges that the public damage caused is rather low. Even if prior Services of the Unister Group had been taxed as insurance, the tax liability would be at best be in six figures."
On Thursday a second indictment arrived in partial form. Media reports are confusing and incomplete, but it appears that the main accusation is of "Runterbuchen" -- what some Germans loosely translate into English as "air ticket optimisiation", or "finding better fares within the cancellation and ticketing period."
Regarding both indictments, a company spokesperson noted: "No customer has suffered damage. This kind of smart ticketing is customary practice in airline distribution."
Wagner recently said with reference to speculations regarding the first indictment filed the beginning of 2014 that his key objective is an acquittal on all points.
As expected, a decision has been made by the district court regarding the commencement of the trial in the so-called first-wave prosecution. Parts of the indictment are coming to the main Court in pieces.
In good news for Unister, the Saxon fiscal court stopped in February 2016 the implementation of several tax assessments. That runs counter to the position taken by the prosecutor's office of how to understand some of the tax issues involved.
As for the second indictment, the company's spokesperson says:
"We are currently not aware of the details of the prosecutors accusations."
In 2014, the company was deep in the red, according to German financial publication Handelsblatt, but a Unister spokesman contested details in that report.