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Taxman rakes in hundreds of millions thanks to stolen bank data

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Taxman rakes in hundreds of millions thanks to stolen bank data
Photo: DPA
12:02 CEST+02:00
Germany is still raking in hundreds of millions of euros from tax dodgers thanks to stolen Liechtenstein bank information purchased in 2008, just as new Swiss data is scaring droves of offenders to turn themselves in.

According to daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, some €626 million in back taxes have flowed into government coffers due to voluntary disclosure from offenders as authorities at the Bochum public prosecutor's office probe a list of Liechtenstein bank data provided by an informant in February 2008.

The office has finished 244 of the 596 cases in the affair involving LGT Treuhand, a former subsidiary of the LGT Group – work which has garnered an additional €161 million, the paper said.

The tax fraud scandal that followed the sale of the bank data two years ago pointed to some of Germany's top earners, among them former Deutsche Post boss Klaus Zumwinkel, who was sentenced to two years probation and a fine of €1 million in January 2009.

But in another case involving LGT Treuhand, a Bad Homburg business man won millions in damages in a suit against the bank for failing to reveal that his information was stolen along with hundreds of other account holders and sold to German authorities for a criminal investigation. He argued that if the bank had informed those on the list that their data had been sold, they could have turned themselves in, receiving temporary amnesty and much lower fines.

Bochum investigators told Süddeutsche Zeitung they plan to finish their cases regarding the Liechtenstein bank in the next year, meanwhile a more recent case of stolen Swiss data bought by the German government is expected to bring in significantly more hidden tax money.

Tax officials report that some 13,000 people nationwide have turned themselves in for tax fraud following the government's decision to buy stolen bank data on secret accounts at Swiss banks early this year, daily Rheinische Post reported on Wednesday.

According to the paper, these reports - which have come mainly from the states of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Hamburg - could bring in more than €1 billion.

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