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FINANCE

Swiss MP threatens fire with fire over bank data

A Swiss member of parliament alleged Saturday that top German public officials had secret bank accounts in Switzerland and threatened to out them if Germany bought stolen data on tax dodgers.

Swiss MP threatens fire with fire over bank data
Photo: DPA

”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

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.

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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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