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CRIME

Credit Suisse raided in tax fraud probe

German prosecutors on Wednesday raided 13 branches of the Swiss bank Credit Suisse in connection with an investigation into widespread tax evasion.

Credit Suisse raided in tax fraud probe
Photo: DPA

The prosecutor’s office in Düsseldorf said that about 150 investigators took part in searches as part of a probe into allegations that bank staff assisted clients to dodge their taxes.

State attorney Johannes Mocken said the raids “targeted Credit Suisse staff suspected of having assisted tax fraud by clients.”

The Swiss bank said in a statement that it was “cooperating with the relevant authorities” in Germany but added: “As it is an ongoing investigation, we cannot provide more information.”

German officials in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia purchased a CD in February that reportedly contained information on more than 1,000 wealthy Germans who could be concerned by the investigation.

Those with accounts at Credit Suisse have been urged to come forward of their own accord to avoid prosecution.

A spokesman for prosecutors told news agency AFP in March that “the Credit Suisse clients have investments in total of around €1.2 billion.” The amount of tax owed to the authorities was unclear, he added, but according to several sources they stood to recover up to €400 million.

Swiss authorities have complained about the acquisition, and the affair has provoked diplomatic tension with Germany, which is determined to recover tax revenue from accounts in neighbouring countries that might shield funds.

German press reports have said the state paid €2.5 million ($3.2 million) for the information.

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.

The saga put Liechtenstein and other tax havens including Switzerland in the firing line of international efforts against offshore banking havens and tax dodgers.

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CRIME

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.

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