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Taxman rakes in hundreds of millions thanks to stolen bank data

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.

Taxman rakes in hundreds of millions thanks to stolen bank data
Photo: DPA

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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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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