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Informant offers to sell names of tax dodgers

AFP/The Local · 30 Jan 2010, 18:29

Published: 30 Jan 2010 18:29 GMT+01:00

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The daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said the unnamed whistleblower had supplied details of five accounts worth some €1 million ($1.4 million) in tax as proof and demanded €2.5 million for the full list.

The paper quoted a tax official as confirming that the five accounts had been checked and said the finance ministry was considering the proposed deal.

"It's now too late for these five to own up," the official told the daily.

The German Finance Ministry declined to comment on the report while a Swiss Finance Ministry spokesman, Roland Meier, said Bern was waiting to see what Berlin expected.

If confirmed, the affair deals a new blew to Switzerland's jealously-guarded banking secrecy which is under siege from several quarters. On Wednesday Swiss Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz said Switzerland and France had resolved a spat over data stolen from the Geneva branch of banking giant HSBC.

He said that among other things France had agreed to send copies of the stolen data, concerning some 3,000 French citizens, to Switzerland, and promised not to transmit it to other countries.

Last year the former German finance minister, Peer Steinbrück, called on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to put Switzerland on its black list of tax havens.

Story continues below…

Switzerland was placed on the "grey list" of uncooperative countries but agreed to follow OECD rules on tax matters and end a distinction it made between tax evasion and fraud. It has since signed a separate agreements with a dozen countries on exchange of tax information, though not all have been ratified.

In a government-brokered settlement for charges of tax fraud in the United States, Switzerland's banking flagship UBS last year agreed to hand over details of about 4,450 clients and US taxpayers to US authorities.

But last week a Swiss court upheld an appeal by one taxpayer against the transfer, saying the deal could not take precedence over the existing Swiss-US dual taxation agreement.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

19:14 January 30, 2010 by Mark Frantzen
Shame on the German Government for even considering the proposal. Paying the informant would be immoral and illegal and encourage fraud and graft. A person knowingly buying stolen goods from a thief is a criminal himself. Have the Germans lost their moral mores once again? Shame!

Mark Frantzen, Victoria, BC, Canada
23:08 January 30, 2010 by Patriot001
It is more shameful that these rich guys can stash away all their wealth in Swiss banks and enjoy all the benefits in the state (including the oppertunity to generate wealth) and get subsidized by the tax from middle class citizens who earn a tenth or lower than them. If these guys dont want to pay taxes, they can emigrate to coutries where they dont have to pay any. They cannot have the cake and eat it.
12:51 January 31, 2010 by kotapzero
The german government has already bought stolen bank data from Liechtenstein, 600 tax evaders account details for €4.2 million paid to to an ex-LGT employee, who had before stolen this data rom the bank. They will of course repeat that with switzerland now no matter how loud the swiss banks and politicians scream. The tax evaders have reason to be very scared and the number of tax evaders that will avoid severe punishment by corrected returns is going to be somewhere near 600. Too bad for them that it is not easy to keep your cash hidden from greedy finance ministers, that are not scared to use what would be considered moraly wrong methods.

"Sometimes you have to lie to catch a liar, sometimes you have to steal to catch a thief"

Did you never wonder why the patron saint of the police forces is Judas Iscariot?

Global plaing Enterprises manage to have their cash flowing in ways that are the least damaging by tax, but some greedy millionaires or billionaires are just not smart enough. I don´t have pity on them. Let´s see how they cough up the doe and which

DAX CEO is going to be arrested this time.
16:45 January 31, 2010 by Legal E
It would be interesting if this is in line with the ECHR as evidence has to be obtained legally. The German government is actually actively encouring illegal activity (i.e. Theft of Data).

It is not the topic of using off shore accounts but the fact that the legal authorities are now actively engaged in illegal activities. Sounds dodgy ground as I thought Germany prided themselves on protection of privacy. Not any more it seems. If I was one of these evaders, I would simply leave Germany and close the enterprise that on a whole generates revenue, employment for Germany. Simple.
20:38 January 31, 2010 by wood artist
While I agree this is different, it's only slightly different than the police using paid informants, or offering a reward for information leading to an arrest, etc.

In the US, it's not abnormal for a prosecutor to offer a "deal" to a criminal in exchange for his/her testimony about others. Usually the deal involves a lighter sentence or maybe a reduced charge.

The "spy" with the data is only slightly different, although I agree he/she is different in important ways. In the US there are "rewards" for people who turn in tax evaders, but it's seldom based upon stolen or purloined information. All of that notwithstanding, if this were to make the Swiss more willing to share information about "criminals" that they are helping through their secrecy laws, then maybe the whole idea has some merit.

As is often the case, Black and White are almost always shades of gray, and question of ethics are seldom neat and clean.
06:21 February 1, 2010 by ColoSlim
If the informant obtained the information illegally then this person should not be rewarded they should be prosecuted. I also think the reward should not be set by the individual, but by the authorities, otherwise the individual is guilty of blackmale which is also illegal. The story is incomplete, please follow up.
12:02 February 1, 2010 by acewaseem
Will the 2.5 Million that will be payed to the secret informant be taxed???
15:43 February 2, 2010 by kotapzero
Quod erat demonstrandum:


@acewaseem: Of course they will be taxed, if the informant is a german resident :)

Otherwise an invoice shall suffice.
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