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Swiss data to be bought this weekend: report

The Local · 6 Feb 2010, 13:01

Published: 06 Feb 2010 13:01 GMT+01:00

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The seller of the CD containing the data had insisted the handover take place in a neighbouring country because he feared he could be arrested and the CD seized as illegally obtained goods if he entered Germany, the magazine reported.

The handover is apparently being treated as a veritable cloak-and-dagger affair, with the exact location and circumstances known only to handful of investigators.

Germany will pay a reported €2.5 million for the stolen Swiss bank data but could net up to €400 million in unpaid taxes.

The decision by Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble to buy the information has divided German commentators and politicians, given it was stolen.

Some have argued it is simply the price that must be paid to crack down on tax dodgers, while others fear buying stolen information sets a dangerous precedent.

Germany’s foreign intelligence agency the BND was also involved in the meeting, according to Focus.

The seller of the information had first contacted the tax office in the North Rhine-Westphalian city of Wuppertal by email. The initial approach was anonymous but investigators have since established his identity.

Story continues below…

Reports of the deal have, according to Focus, sparked a rash of pre-emptive tax declarations, with one account holder revealing his account to Berlin tax authorities and quickly paying back taxes of about €4.5 million.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

15:02 February 6, 2010 by pepsionice
I believe the best tactic for the Swiss bank...or for the Swiss government....offer up $20 million for information to lead to the downfall of the CDU-FDP-CSU government. For about a day or two...it'll be laughed about....and then a number of political folks will shut up and disappear from media attention for a month.

My guess is that there are a hundred affairs, financial stumbles and issues that could bring the current government down.

All's fair in love and war. The idea that you will just offer up money and pay off for folks for information.....opens the door for various issues.
15:54 February 6, 2010 by BR549
My opinion is the German government is partaking in and condoning an activity they outlaw themselves. For example, if I were buying stolen computers and caught, I would be persecuted by them; but if I bought them illegally, contacted the Germans and announced there was information on the computers they could use, and got paid me then it¦#39;s OK, right?! I question the legitimacy of ¦quot;law¦quot;.

Also, I see this will entice other people to break the law to receive a payoff from the government. This is action is a public statement of desperation. No doubt politicians, big supporters of politicians or parties and leaders of big German companies are on the list, so it is like shooting themselves in the foot.

Entertaining and disturbing at the same time….
16:05 February 6, 2010 by dcgi
Surely the tax cheats if caught can simply refute the stolen data on the basis that it was pertained illegally and therefore inadmissible as evidence against them?
17:33 February 6, 2010 by auniquecorn
Thier buying it because Most of their names are on it. Can´t have it end up in the wrong hands.
07:33 February 7, 2010 by wood artist
While I understand the concerns on both sides of this debate, I find little sympathy for those who will likely be found out.

The real question, I think, is this. Police, at least police in the US, have routinely offered rewards for information that leads to an arrest, etc. Prosecutors have often offered plea deals, either as a way to avoid a trial (which they might lose) or to get one bad guy to testify against the others. In some cases, the deal has also included immunity from prosecution, suggesting that they believe they committed a crime, but are willing to trade away that knowledge to convict others.

So, assuming that as a starting point, is this really all that different? You have one criminal willing to rat out others, and asking for a deal to do so.

There are differences, of course, but they are not all that big. Does this set a new precedent? I suspect so. Is it good fiscal policy? Sure. Catching people who cheat on their taxes is a legitimate law enforcement aim. In the end, the question is very narrow: Is the government encouraging crime (theft of data) to identify other crime (tax evasion)? It's hard to say for sure, but that's the issue that needs to be addressed.

09:04 February 7, 2010 by SilberFuchs
Let's hope the government (France) will collect income taxes on the reported €2.5 million Germany will pay to the data thieves. Justice is a double edged sword ;-)
14:04 February 7, 2010 by Patriot001
If the theif wanted to really make some fast bucks, he could have straight away contacted the guys who had cash stashed for bribes or sold the information to some criminal gangs who want/capable to do that. Even at 10% of the 400million tax money government estimates, he could have pocketed 40 million instead of the 2.5million he is getting from german government. So I guess the theif is doing a favour on german tax payers by settling for his 2.5million and giving the information to the goverment. For those worried about individual privacy, all rights a citizen enjoy are a bargain between him and the society. When an individual breaks his side of the deal, dont expect the society to keep its side.
08:44 February 8, 2010 by Eyeball
This is another case of System failure.

Failure 1, The behaviour of incompetent arrogant and sometimes totally stupid politicians, for not pre empting the situation.

They always act after the event and make it easier to cover their own dubious activities.

Failure 2, Every bank could just deduct the tax due, then remit it to the applicable home countries of thir clients and all this unnecessary drama could be eliminated.

The banks are all controlled by a central ruling body, so it should not be too difficult to implement internationally.
09:23 February 8, 2010 by Legal E
Let us throw out the whole idea of the ECHR and obtaining evidence legally for a court case... in fact we did this before did we not, yep, lets get our old friends together, you know, before 1989. They did that snooping thing then, ah it was ok then so it must be ok now. In fact, did we not justify crime to meet an ends before.. you know it was before 1945.. bit dark I know but we done it then so its justified today... Dear oh dear. I have lost all credibilty for the DE government. Why do they not address the root of the problem of why they put the money there in the first place!!!
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