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Germany probes Equity

Funding and prod'n outfit bankrolled 'Black Dahlia'

BERLIN — Equity Pictures, the fund operator and production outfit that bankrolled Brian De Palma’s “The Black Dahlia” and Richard Donner’s “16 Blocks,” has been snagged in German prosecutors’ ever-expanding probe into film funds.

Authorities last week searched the company’s Munich offices as part of the larger investigation, which began last year after the government introduced laws to stamp out all tax shelters including film funds.

Equity topper Andreas Thiesmeyer downplayed the search, saying Equity had never used a questionable fund structure similar to that of others under investigation. He said Equity would cooperate fully with authorities.

A regular partner of Avi Lerner’s Nu Image/Millennium Films, Equity also backed “The Wicker Man” and the upcoming “88 Minutes,” “Rambo IV: In the Serpent’s Eye” and “Lonely Hearts.”

The prosecutors’ probe has already cast a shadow on some major players.

VIP Medienfonds former CEO Andreas Schmid has been in jail for more than a year while under investigation on suspicion of fraud and tax evasion.

Former fund operator Victory Media filed for insolvency earlier this month in the wake of another inquiry by authorities in Augsburg into alleged tax fraud and violation of investor trust.

However, prosecutors have yet to charge anyone with criminal wrongdoing.

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