Credit Suisse clients and staff face tax probe

German prosecutors said Friday they were investigating around 1,100 customers and staff of Swiss bank Credit Suisse's local operations on suspicion of hiding money from German tax authorities.

Credit Suisse clients and staff face tax probe
Photo: DPA

“The Credit Suisse clients have investments in total of around €1.2 billion ($1.6 billion),” Dirk Negenborn, spokesman for prosecutors in Düsseldorf told the news agency AFP.

He said the total amount of tax owed was unclear. According to several sources, the Credit Suisse information should allow German tax authorities to recover up to €400 million.

The probe stems from a CD with confidential banking data sold to the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper reported.

In February, the state bought stolen information on 1,500 suspected German tax cheats holding bank accounts in Switzerland.

German press reports have said the state shelled out €2.5 million for the CD. The federal government of Chancellor Angela Merkel in early February gave the green light for North Rhine-Westphalia to buy the Swiss CD.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung daily reported in its Saturday edition that over 10,000 people have surrendered to authorities since the purchase. The decision prompted a high-profile debate in Germany about paying for illicit data as well as a souring of its relations with its Alpine neighbour Switzerland.

In 2008, a similar deal netted a long list of names and bank accounts in the principality of Liechtenstein which let officials recover around €200 million in unpaid taxes and led to the arrest of the head of the logistics group Deutsche Post. That episode put Liechtenstein and other tax havens including Switzerland in the firing line of international efforts against offshore banking havens and tax dodgers.

Fellow Swiss banking giant UBS has found itself in hot water for allegedly helping rich Americans hide money from the taxman.

In a state-brokered settlement in August 2009, UBS warded off a bruising US government lawsuit by agreeing to hand over secret details on about 4,450 clients and US taxpayers.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Former Nazi camp guard, 101, gets five-year jail sentence

A German court on Tuesday handed a five-year jail sentence to a 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard, the oldest person so far to go on trial for complicity in war crimes during the Holocaust.

Former Nazi camp guard, 101, gets five-year jail sentence

Josef S. was found guilty of being an accessory to murder while working as a prison guard at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945, presiding judge Udo Lechtermann said.

The pensioner, who now lives in Brandenburg state, had pleaded innocent, saying he did “absolutely nothing” and was not aware of the gruesome crimes being carried out at the camp.

“I don’t know why I am here,” he said at the close of his trial on Monday.

But prosecutors said he “knowingly and willingly” participated in the murders of 3,518 prisoners at the camp and called for him to be punished with five years behind bars.

READ ALSO: Trials of aging Nazis a ‘reminder for the present’, says German prosecutor

More than 200,000 people, including Jews, Roma, regime opponents and gay people, were detained at the Sachsenhausen camp between 1936 and 1945.

Tens of thousands of inmates died from forced labour, murder, medical experiments, hunger or disease before the camp was liberated by Soviet troops, according to the Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum.

Prosecutors said the man had aided and abetted the “execution by firing squad of Soviet prisoners of war in 1942” and the murder of prisoners “using the poisonous gas Zyklon B”.

He was 21 years old at the time.

Contradictory statements

During the trial, S. made several inconsistent statements about his past, complaining that his head was getting “mixed up”.

At one point, the centenarian said he had worked as an agricultural labourer in Germany for most of World War II, a claim contradicted by several historical documents bearing his name, date and place of birth.

After the war, the man was transferred to a prison camp in Russia before returning to Germany, where he worked as a farmer and a locksmith.

He remained at liberty during the trial, which began in 2021 but has been delayed several times because of his health.

Despite his conviction, he is highly unlikely to be put behind bars, given his age.

His lawyer Stefan Waterkamp told AFP ahead of the verdict that if found guilty, he would appeal.

More than seven decades after World War II, German prosecutors are racing to bring the last surviving Nazi perpetrators to justice.

The 2011 conviction of former guard John Demjanjuk, on the basis that he served as part of Hitler’s killing machine, set a legal precedent and paved the way for several of these twilight justice cases.

Since then, courts have handed down several guilty verdicts on those grounds rather than for murders or atrocities directly linked to the individual accused.