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CRIME

SPD mulling measures against Liechtenstein and Swiss banks

Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) are considering pushing for sanctions against banks from Liechtenstein and Switzerland to make them more cooperative in the fight against tax evasion.

SPD mulling measures against Liechtenstein and Swiss banks
Attac activists dressed as robber barons from Liechtenstein. Photo:DPA

“We should consider whether we should make use of the ability to revoke the bank licences of institutions from Liechtenstein and Switzerland,” SPD deputy floor leader Joachim Poß told the Passauer Neue Presse on Wednesday.

He labelled the assurances made by Liechtenstein in the wake of a massive tax evasion scandal this year an “alibi event” intended to take pressure off the tiny alpine principality. Poß also criticized the lack of Swiss cooperation in tracking down Germans hiding their money from the tax authorities.

The head of the union representing German tax officials, Dieter Ondracek, backed the call for tougher measures. “We shouldn’t hold back anymore, because the announced cooperation isn’t happening,” he told the paper, adding that the United States took a much harder line against tax evasion.

Besides pulling the licences of banks that refuse to cooperate with the tax authorities, Ondracek said there were other methods Germany could use.

“We could consider currency controls or an extra fee for transfers to Liechtenstein,” he said.

But a spokesman for the German Finance Ministry told the Frankfurter Rundschau on Wednesday that progress was being made in the fight against tax evasion in Liechtenstein. “Much points to the realization that Liechtenstein is losing its attraction for potential tax evaders,” he told the paper.

GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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