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Swiss MP threatens fire with fire over bank data

AFP/The Local · 13 Feb 2010, 17:50

Published: 13 Feb 2010 17:50 GMT+01:00

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''If Germany buys stolen bank data, we'll push for a legislative change that would have to disclose all Swiss accounts of German people who hold public office,'' MP Alfred Heer of the right-wing Swiss People's Party told daily Bild.

He said information from Swiss banking circles indicated that German politicians, officials and judges had offshore account in Switzerland and Liechtenstein designed to avoid tax.

''The first such information has already been offered to us,'' he said.

Germany has angered Switzerland by agreeing to purchase a stolen disc containing the names of 1,500 Swiss account holders who may have defrauded the German taxman.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said at the beginning of this month that Germany would stump up a reported €2.5 million to an anonymous whistle-blower for the disc.

Since then the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg said it had been offered a second disc containing 2,000 names. According to the Frankfurter Runschau daily it includes data from Swiss banking giants UBS and Credit Suisse as well as insurer Generali.

Schäuble told Saturday's Frankfurter Rundschau that he backed the purchase

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of such data, saying, "My sympathy for people who regularly defraud the tax authorities by putting their fortunes in other countries is limited."

The daily also reported that an unidentified German multimillionaire had taken legal action against the German subsidiary of UBS, accusing it of encouraging him to evade tax.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

18:43 February 13, 2010 by wood artist
This is clearly an implied threat that revealing the information will cause the German government to stop enforcing their own tax laws. As a citizen (which I'm not) I'd say...sure. Release that data...and all the rest. By all means change your laws so our own law-abiding citizens can go after those who think they are big enough to cheat.

Now, somebody's going to be scared by that threat, but they have only themselves to blame. If that means a few government jobs are going to open up, so be it. There are lots of people...honest people...looking for work these days.

21:09 February 13, 2010 by Edmond Schindler
Best to get it all out in the open and get back to business. Clear the air and cleanup the crooks. Go for it!
23:10 February 13, 2010 by majura
What's happening to the Swiss' morality of neutrality.

One could once say "Ich bin der Schweiz" in a discussion, but now someone's bounds to say "Was hast du gegen Minarets?"

Now they're getting all flustered over tax frauds? Maybe they're thinking of coming out of the closet and putting their hands up to become an EU member... who knows.
10:27 February 14, 2010 by The-ex-pat
This is clearly an implied threat that revealing the information will cause the German government to stop enforcing their own tax laws. As a citizen (which I'm not) I'd say...sure. Release that data...and all the rest. By all means change your laws so our own law-abiding citizens can go after those who think they are big enough to cheat.

So at what point is buying stolen property to be made legal and at what point is it to be made illegal. Maybe the police can illegally park to catch you illegally parking or speeding.
12:11 February 14, 2010 by michael4096
The race to the bottom of the morality league?

I do not believe that Switzerland will risk their entire banking industry by introducing more exceptions to the secrecy rules.
15:37 February 14, 2010 by Celeon
Lets assume for a moment that this is not just hot air and desperate attempt to intimidate Germany. *lol*

The irony would be that what this anti-german populist is proposing here could be a huge gift for Germany.

Not for the involved politicians of course but for the german tax authority and the ordinary tax payer. They would love him for revealing these informations.

Not exactly what a "ugly swiss" like him usually intends.
17:27 February 14, 2010 by Keny
Go Switzerland, let 'er rip. Politicians should be held accountable and if they've stashed cash in Switzerland to avoid taxes, only the people of Germany can profit by this information become public. Bring the tax € in and get the tax-cheating politicians out. Go for it !!!!
21:19 February 14, 2010 by auniquecorn
I told everyone,,, The German gov. only wants to buy that list because their names are on it. You know how it goes, Gotta clean it up a bit before they get caught themselves.
21:39 February 14, 2010 by wood artist
ex-pat, your point is well taken. However, I don't think that is the issue here.

This is a case where a Swiss PM is saying he would re-write the laws of his own country to reveal German "secrets." Since Germany has a interest in seeing those secrets, and presumably collecting the appropriate taxes, on the whole this would be a good thing for Germany.

The other perspective is that you have a Swiss MP threatening to reveal the secrets of some German governmental people...and essentially trying to blackmail the German government. THAT is a much different situation, and rather ugly in any case.

If there are members of the German government who are guilty, then they should be found out. They, like others, are using the Swiss laws to hide their illegal activities. Would you tolerate that some anyone else? If so, why?

In the end, the answer remains the same. As long as people can use laws to hide their illegal activities, we all suffer the consequences. It's true in the US, and it's true in Germany also. The Swiss have chosen to ignore their duplicity in this, and it's time they come clean.

21:20 February 15, 2010 by Eastard
It is almost commical for the Swiss to threaten to diminish their enterpirze. Exactly why would anyone use their secret banking if they didn't have something to hide...? The crime is not the Swiss account it is the non-disclosure in one's country.As an outsider, I believe their legal-illegal free ride days are coming to a close fairly soon.

A bigger question for the wealthy is how best to invest to avoid taxation...legally. I am not big on governmental rape of accumulated assets... however rules are rules... Maybe the rich should buy their own country and provide for this growing need...
18:43 February 16, 2010 by Talonx
Eastard, "Maybe the rich should buy their own country and provide for this growing need".

Haven't you heard of East Asia? And, boy East Asia is really doing great.
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