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Stolen data to be used to prosecute tax dodgers

The Local · 14 Oct 2011, 05:59

Published: 14 Oct 2011 05:59 GMT+02:00

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The German state of North-Rhine Westphalia bought for about €3 million a CD-ROM some months ago containing information on the bank accounts held by Germans in Luxembourg, said the newspaper.

Prosecutions by the treasury could start next month.

Germany has in recent years been engaged in a crusade against tax evasion using banking data from Lichtenstein and Switzerland, putting its ties with these countries at risk.

Last year, Berlin recovered €1.6 billion from fraudsters using stolen data on Germans who had placed assets in banks in these two countries, according to news reports.

A CD-ROM from Lichtenstein was bought for €5 million in 2008, leading to the arrest of Deutsche Post ex-chief Klaus Zumwinkel, and his conviction on tax evasion.

In 2009, German authorities turned their sights on lists of Swiss bank clients, also obtained at a price.

Story continues below…

The German Constitutional Court has given the go-ahead for the use of such data to track fraudsters.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

08:33 October 14, 2011 by auniquecorn
Ok, so it´s not illegal to buy stolen information in Germany?
08:44 October 14, 2011 by tueken
Poor guys, they don't even have time use the 5 million.
10:13 October 14, 2011 by zeddriver

Silly you. Didn't you know. it's only illegal for the average citizen. There's no government on earth that does not consider itself exempt from the rules it makes for you and I.

It's one of the reasons that the congress in the USA is hated so much by it's citizens. Did you know. If you are a US congressman. You do not have to pay social security taxes. And after serving only one term. two years for the house, six for senators. At which time they receive full pay and full free medical care for the rest of their lives.

And the whole world wants to give more and more power to these corrupt people. No matter what country one is from. It's the same story.
15:02 October 14, 2011 by catjones
zeddriver....please see your doctor for Tourette's syndrome or resume your meds.
18:19 October 14, 2011 by expatriarch
@auniquecorn - Information on a crime being committed is not stolen information. That's just nonsense. There is no difference between this information being sold and getting some sort of reward for information that leads to the arrest of a violent criminal. It's all information about criminals committing a crime.

This is not the same thing as intellectual property, personal, etc. information being stolen.

Society could permanently do away with tax evaders if the same principles that are misapplied to drug and crime offenses, were applied to these types of offenses. In the US, the various government entities have the right to confiscate all your assets and assets of your associates/relatives that are reasonably suspected as being procured through the crime; why is that not applied to white collar crimes. There is nothing more punitive to a white collar person than the prospect of losing their status, wealth, or having to be a poor person. Additionally it would act in a deterrent manner that nonsense policies like the death penalty could never achieve even if it were applied perfectly. White collar criminals think about their actions, they are deliberate, planned, contemplated, and committed with conviction; that is a crime that would be deterred by the death penalty, and having all your assets and those of your associates/relatives taken from you.

Far too frequently, the punishment/repercussions for white collar crimes are so much lower and far less likely that it does not make sense to many people not to commit the crime or exploitation (when it has not been officially designated as a crime) when the pay-off is so astronomically high. Even in the likelihood that you would get "caught" unless you are blatantly stupid about it, you will have earned enough undeserved, ill-gotten gains that you can hire a brigade of lawyers and call in favors that will keep you out of jail, get you a reduced sentence, favorable prison placement, or early release.

The worst thing about this story, is that prosecutors and bureaucrats more often than not lack the fortitude, skill, and tenacious motivation to punish white collar criminals as hard and deep and painfully as they really need to be punished. It would not surprise me if these tax evaders, aka, thieves by way of evading contributing their fair share to the costs of the country, were only even made to pay a couple cents on the dollar of the taxes they saved, not even to mention that they won't have the gains of investing the withheld money taxed or penalties levied at a high enough level that the cost of the crime is felt by the offender any more than just being an annoyance at having been caught.
19:27 October 14, 2011 by blueflag

Perhaps the most lucid and sensible comment I have ever read on the Local comments section.
21:23 October 14, 2011 by Expat IV
OMG! Using illegally obtained info to catch people who are scamming the government of millions of euros in unpaid taxes? Outrageous!
21:56 October 14, 2011 by Maddi70

Well, I don't agree with you in parts. Not to be misunderstood. I don't like tax fraudsters as I myself work in tax and think like you said everyone should contribute its part to the country. I think what they did is illegal, but for a goverment to answer an illegal incident with an illegal one and to say that it is legal in my view is a poor model to serve. That guy whom they bought the information from stole it and so in my view it is illegally purchased. I think that just shows its citizens that with illegal stuff you can get ahead and brings only fear into the system and no trust. If the government has no other way to bring tax evaders to justice than to buy stolen data and bend the rules than anything within the system goes wrong and it's a pathetic display for the government. That to me sounds like I shot anyone and would tell my child not to do so cause it's evil. How should my child trust me in that?
22:15 October 14, 2011 by zeddriver

If you don't agree with what I said then please state that, or even ask for clarification. I see no need for you to try and insult me.

It is clear that I'm not as eloquent a communicator as expatriarch.

I do not disagree with what he stated. I to think that the law should be far tougher on white collar crime than it currently is. But. It does concern me when a government obtains information illegally. I must admit that in this case the I'll gotten data was used to good effect. The problem is this. How far will the government push obtaining info the next time. Will they stop with this particular case. Or will they go overboard and start looking at ever broader ranges of citizens that they THINK might be doing something wrong. I do not wish to have my nor anyone else's government adapt Stazi like investigative tactics.
23:41 October 14, 2011 by derExDeutsche
In the US, there is a proposal for a flat 9-9-9 Tax.

In Germany , its the Nein! Nein! Nein! Tax.

It seems, Rupert Murdoch and Wikileaks aren't the only ones who will pay for information...
08:08 October 15, 2011 by Expat IV
If the Greek government were as aggressive in chasing down tac fraud, perhaps they would not be in such dire financial straits today.
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